Lullaby is the second Chuck Palahniuk novel I’ve attempted and the first I’ve finished. I picked up Haunted a couple of years ago, and, though I remember liking it well enough, I didn’t finish it. It either freaked me out or bored me. I’m not sure which. I read Lullaby because Jacob told me about it, and I thought it sounded interesting. It’s about a feature writer investigating cases of random baby deaths who figures out that lots of the parents had copies of a book called 27 Poems and Rhymes from Around the World. There’s a poem in it, which he calls a culling song, that kills people. And he kills some people, then begins a quest to destroy every copy of the book. He meets a real estate agent who has problems with amusingly haunted houses, who also knows the culling song, and they band together with a young couple in search of the rest of the books. Then Things Happen. (Just wait for the scene involving a cryogenically frozen dead baby. That one’s a kicker.)
I enjoyed most of Lullaby, but at the end it gets a bit preachy. Palahniuk yells at the world, “THIS BOOK IS ABOUT POWER! YOU HAVE NO FREE WILL BECAUSE YOU’RE BEING CONTROLLED BY OTHERS! LIKE THE GOVERNMENT! AND THE MEDIA!” It was a bit much for me. Toward the end of the novel, he can’t stop talking about it. He even throws a “you” in there:
Oyster occupies Helen, the way an army occupies a city. The way Helen occupied Sarge. The way the past, the media, the world, occupy you.
Meh. I made it clear when I read The Unbearable Lightness of Being that I hate being preached at. It’s like the second half in Sartre‘s Nausea when he’s preaching Existentialism. I get it. Enough already.
A year or two ago, some well-known publication (I don’t, of course, remember which) had a website that said it could tell you to what author’s style your writing is closest. I don’t write much anymore (besides on this blog, of course), so I plugged in a chapter of the novel I’ll never finish. It said my style is similar to Palahniuk’s, and I can see that. And I like his style, so it’s certainly not an insult.
So, in sum, I enjoyed Lullaby except for its preachiness, and I’m open to giving Haunted another try. Palahniuk also wrote Fight Club, and I hear the novel is better than the movie, though that’s usually the case. I’m not even sure I’ve seen the whole movie. I just hope that he doesn’t pound his message into the readers head with his other books. It was almost violent.