By Lisa Schumaier
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday December 5, 2002
This is one man's hand I would like to shake. The author of "Fight Club" and "Choke," Chuck Palahniuk has written another daring novel with a plot that could never take place. However, just because the storyline is radically unreal, Palahniuk's "Lullaby" is believable.
"Lullaby" follows the life of Carl Streator, a middle-aged newspaper journalist. He is actually an interesting guy. Assigned to investigate a recent series of crib deaths in the community, he discovers that at every crime scene is a book of "Poems and Rhymes From Around the World," open to page 27. The children did not die in the middle of the night from crib death-the lullaby that was sung to them before bed killed them. An African culling song is the lethal weapon, murdering whomever it is read to or even thought toward. Streator read this same lullaby to his wife and son years before and realizes he is responsible for killing his family. Now that the culling song is memorized, Streator becomes a supernatural serial killer. A radio therapist aggravates him and before he knows it the song has rushed through his head. The therapist stops mid-sentence and the radio plays dead air. Palahniuk wants us to "Imagine a plague you catch through your ears." With a virus you can check out from the county library and infect anyone you want, the human race could become extinct. Streator teams up with another singing killer, and they take off across the country to destroy Page 27 in every copy that exists of the book.
This novel is another success for Palahniuk. As deplorable as "Fight Club," but more confronting, "Lullaby" is a racy read. You will become more careful when choosing your thoughts, and more superstitious about the power of those thoughts. Like training for the Book Olympics, you will keep pushing yourself to read as many chapters you can.
"Lullaby" gets us to think
not about a possibility, but the reality this exaggerated version is
insinuating. Palahniuk writes like a diviner finds water; he points us toward a truth that could save our culture. "Big Brother isn't watching. He's singing and dancing and pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother's busy holding your attention every moment you're awake. He's making sure you're distracted. He's making sure you're fully absorbed." Palahniuk is getting across that Americans are too entertained to think for themselves.
Palahniuk's style is full of black humor. The childish saying "Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you," is tangled throughout the book; because Palahniuk warns that words can kill you. Death is like a yawn ÷ daily and contagious. He writes, "There are worse things you can do to the people you love than kill them." But he always follows with a point, one that makes you chuckle at first, but on second thought, makes the world feel conspiring. "You can watch the world do it."