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Review by
Mike Philbin
by Chuck Palahniuk
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Anchor
ISBN: 0385722192

That spotty couple of party boys next door with their drum and base at 3 a.m.
Those roaring acid freaks downstairs with their bickering marathons.
The middle-aged couple shrieking through orchestras of sexual adventure to your left.
The drunken abusive husband to the right.
They all should fuck off and die.
As the genteel face of the girl in all the BUKKAKE porn movies you've ever dared to download off the net is saturated by pint after pint of man-batter, so is the audio world of Carl Streator saturated by this constant barrage of noise. Nothing helps - even the best ear plugs money can buy disintegrate under the onslaught in time. He quite literally can't take any more.

Carl Streator is a news reporter investigating the phenomenon Sudden Infant Death Syndrome for a series of feature articles. All through his research one thing keeps cropping up THE CULLING SONG. Streator discovers that it is a remnant of ancient black magic still in circulation today. There is a children's book out there right now that contains this song and mothers and fathers all over the world could read it to their kids at any time.

There is a woman. She sells haunted real estate to her hapless clients She could be evil. She could be the world's saviour in dressed in pink and yellow. Her name is Helen Hoover Boyle. She also knows about this culling song. It has become her obsession to rid the world of every last copy of this murderous children's book. Together, she and Streator go on the road to seek out and destroy the book before more harm can be done.

Palahniuk is either a great researcher or Walter Mitty - his work bursts with glistening detail of the most distasteful of subject matter. He is most importantly a funny writer. I mean by this that he writes very funny books. His humour is black as it comes but it's funny, it makes you think too deeply about the grimmest things, then you regret having thought with that degree of intensity. I've just read the eponymous GUTS short story from his forthcoming collection (that recently ran in PLAYBOY) and he is even more wicked and compact in short story form than he is in novels like FIGHT CLUB, CHOKE and DIARY. Here in LULLABY, we see the darkness in full flow - cut to an aggravated Streator somewhere down the path of his own rage-fuelled insanity, pedestrians falling by the wayside as he tears a path to his final destination.

LULLABY is one of my favourite books of 2003. By far the most insightful book out there.


This review copyright 2004 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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