Saturday, February 19, 2011

'Lulaby' - Liked It. Didn't Love It.

LullabyLast night I finished Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk. I previously mentioned how his treatment of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, really bothered me. It still does; however, it's not important to the plot.

What is important to the plot is the culling song. In investing crib deaths, reporter Carl Streator discovers that parents are reading the culling song to their babies to help put them to sleep, clueless that the poem kills.

With the help of three eccentric characters, Streator takes off on a cross-country trip to eliminate all copies of the poem, but he can't get the words of the culling song out of his head. When someone pisses him off, it takes everything in his power to stop the culling song from flying through his head. Sometimes, he can't help it.

Each main character has a different view of the culling song and how it should be used or not used at all. Real estate agent Helen Hoover Boyle has been using the poem for years, killing for financial gain.

The book is really a story about the death penalty and the consequences of immense power. Of course, it has a few wild twists at the end, which really aren't that wild if you paid attention to the whole story — paused and thought about the foreshadowing. But, as readers, we don't really pay attention, so Palahniuk gets away with it, just as Helen Hoover Boyle gets away with selling haunted houses. The potential owners never really look before they move in. They see what they want to see and ignore what they don't want to see. As readers, we do the same thing. It's what Palahniuk counts on.

Overall, I liked Lullaby. I didn't love it. I loved Fight Club. After a book like Fight Club, I had certain expectations. They were not met here. Maybe an author just can't repeat that level of excellence over and over. I loved Atonement by Ian McEwan. I think it's one of the best written books I've ever read. But, Enduring Love? It was OK. How to Make an American Quilt is one of my all-time favorite books. Unfortunately, when I checked out another Whitney Otto book at the library, I couldn't get through it. I can't even recall the name.

Maybe I just go into these books with too high of expectations. I don't have a favorite author for this very reason, although I do enjoy Jodi Picoult, but it's not as if she's writing at the level of Ian McEwan ...

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