Author Chuck Palahniuk hates everything about the world we live in: the culture, the people, the government, and especially the future of humanity. Thankfully, he turns his repulsion into novels that are darkly comic, outrageous, occasionally disgusting, intelligent and unforgettable. One of his previous novels, Fight Club, was made into a movie by David Fincher, and despite this foray into the film business he so loathes, Palahniuk has maintained his cynicism.
There’s nothing gentle or soothing about his newest novel, Lullaby. While researching sudden infant death syndrome, journalist Carl Streator learns about a song that kills anyone who hears it. He meets Helen Hoover Boyle, who sells expensive haunted houses, and they set out on a cross-country journey to recover and destroy every copy of the book in which the song appears. They are joined by Helen’s witch receptionist, Mona, and her hot-headed vegan boyfriend Oyster. These characters are all incredibly self-involved and heartless, and friction slowly builds around their newfound power over life and death.
Palahniuk has once again turned his personal rants, concerning endless noise pollution and the destruction of truly “natural” nature, into an engaging story that never disappoints with its barrage of memorable, if not pleasant, characters and situations. Infanticide and necrophilia may not be polite, but they’re never dull.
His criticisms are not subtle, his focus on pitch-black satire leaves little room for character development, and some may be turned off by his brashness, but it’s necessary to approach his books with an open mind. Palahniuk recently said he writes only when he’s entertained by his stories. Reading such stories can be just as fun as writing them.