What if words could kill? Chuck Palahniuk starts off Lullaby with a fantastic concept but somehow gets lost along the way. The narrator is a journalist that starts digging deeper into the cases of Sudden Infant Death he’s sent to report on. He comes to realise that all the children were read the same poem before they died.
The idea that overhearing words in the street or on the radio, the internet, the television, could kill without any reason or malice is quite a scary one. That reading to a loved one could cause their death is heartbreaking and the first half of this book is thought-provoking and sad.
I loved this book up until around the point where Oyster appears. I guess he is there as the villain of the piece but his arrival also signalled the start of strangeness beyond enjoyment. I can understand the role of the extremist vegan in a world where human lives are so easily ended but he ranted on a bit much. I didn’t get the point of the class action law suits either (I knew why he was doing them just not the relevance to the story).
I do wonder about all the reviewers that call Chuck Palahniuk’s work funny, hilarious, laugh out loud, etc. Yes there is a dark humour in there but I would never call them funny. I can imagine that the combination of the “funny” review snippets and the back blurb, which says it’s about babies dying, would put a lot of people off. I think the first half of the book was fairly tasteful for Palahniuk and it’s obvious he is not trying to be witty about the infant deaths. It’s the second half of the book that returns to his normal style.
I have to admit I did relate to the narrator at times, especially when describing the noisy neighbour. Why do people need noise all the time? I’m quite happy to sit in silence (well just the sound of nature) and a lot of my music listening is just to block out noise from my neighbours. I can just imagine me accidentally killing the whole of the block of flats with the culling song when I’m in a grumpy mood!
Just as I finished writing the above, thumping sounds started from somewhere. I think they might be telepathic.
It’s a shame I can’t find a clear image of the cover on my copy because I thought it was quite clever and I prefer it to the more common editions.