I haven’t gotten as far with my 50 book reading goal as I would like, but I guess that’s to be expected. Between work, spending time with Eric, going out with friends, various responsibilities (volunteering, running errands, cooking meals, etc.), and just wanting to do other things from time to time, reading is often pushed to the back burner. I thought I might read more while I was sick, but unfortunately most days I could barely stay awake long enough to finish a chapter.
There was one day, however, that I read a lot. I think I read more than half of this book in a day, though that was mostly due to the fact that I was so congested that I couldn’t breathe when I tried to sleep … So basically I was so exhausted that I was just trying to do something quiet and calming in hopes that I might be able to nap a little here and there.
Image courtesy of bookcoverarchive.com.
Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk
I specifically chose this book to read while I was sick because I’d read it before. Generally rereads are pretty quick for me (unless it’s a more “challenging” novel, like Anna Karenina or something similar), and Chuck Palahniuk’s books are typically quick reads for me as well.
I feel like when it comes to Chuck Palahniuk, a lot of people either love him or hate him. For the most part, I love him. (I was pretty disappointed in Snuff, however, and I haven’t picked up a lot of his more recent work, including Tell-All and Damned.) I am, however, a big enough fan to drive 3 hours just to attend a reading/book signing. (I did this back in 2007, when he was on his Rant book tour.) I’m glad I had the experience of meeting him, even though I got completely tongue-tied when it was my turn to have my book signed. I told myself I wouldn’t be lame and “star-struck,” but I totally was.
As I said, this was back in 2007 (literally a couple of weeks or so before I met Eric, in fact!). The wedding stuff is related to Rant, so it’s not completely random. The biggest thing to note here is how terrified I look … Like a deer in the headlights. I wish I’d gotten a better picture in which I didn’t look so scared/crazed, but it is what it is. Personal photo.
I at least managed to handle getting my book signed, though, and it’s been proudly on display ever since.
I actually have 2 copies of this novel now. The signed copy, which is just for show, and a copy to be read. Personal photo.
So now you know all about my love for Chucky P.
This post isn’t really about that, though. It’s about Lullaby, which I first read back in … 2006, I think. Lullaby is the story of a journalist named Carl Streator who is working on a piece about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. As he visits several homes to get information from grieving families, he begins to notice a pattern … A book entitled Poems and Rhymes from Around the World is found in each home. On page 27 of this book, there is an African chant/song. It’s known as the culling song, and it kills anyone it is read to.
As the story unfolds, readers learn that he has experienced tragedy in his own life and is perhaps too close to the subject he’s researching for his story. He meets a real estate agent named Helen Hoover Boyle, who has suffered a similar loss. They team up to find and destroy all copies of Poems and Rhymes from Around the World as well as to discover the origin of the song (a book of spells known as the “grimoire”). In meeting Helen, he also gets to know her young assistant Mona, who is into witchcraft, and Mona’s boyfriend, Oyster, who has his own agenda when it comes to the culling song.
If you’ve never read any Chuck Palahniuk books, this summary probably sounds insane. And the book is weird … But in a good way.
Lullaby isn’t my favorite Palahniuk novel. It’s good, but not my favorite. From a review standpoint, some sections are a little too repetitive for my taste. The ideas are interesting, but the execution falls flat at certain points. Overall, it’s dark but funny and it makes you wonder what you would do if you had the kind of power the grimoire (or even the culling song alone) could give you.
One thing I will freely admit about Chuck Palahniuk’s books is that they often make me sad. I’m an extremely sensitive person anyway, so this probably isn’t too shocking … But I feel like most people read his books and don’t cry. I won’t give details of the part that made me cry because I hate spoilers, but it’s near the end of the book (so if you choose to pick it up, you’ll probably figure out what I’m talking about). It’s not really meant to be sad … I mean, it’s completely bizarre and a little disgusting. Yet for whatever reason, it just made me so sad that I cried a little. (I don’t remember if I cried the first time I read this or not, but I’ve definitely cried over a few of his other books in the past.)
I’d obviously reread this book in the future, and would recommend it to those who are interested in reading something strange. If you’ve never read Palahniuk, I wouldn’t start here, though. There are much better novels to start with, including my personal favorite, Invisible Monsters (I may reread and review that one later this year). If you’ve read some of his other work, though, this one is at least worth checking out. As I said, it can get a little repetitive at times, and I don’t feel like the writing is as good as it is in some of his other novels … But it’s worth a read simply because the ideas are pretty interesting.
I give Lullaby THREE STARS. It’s probably closer to three and a half, but I don’t think it warrants a four star rating since I know he can do much better.