Sunday, October 9, 2011

Operation Chuck: Lullaby

Nothing like spending a rainy weekend reading Chuck Palahniuk.  I've now finished four books in my quest to read the collected works of Chuck before his event at Lemuria Books on October 20th.  I love the chatter on the FaceSpace about my alleged sanity--you are correct to assume that I've lost my mind.

The latest book I've added to the "finished" pile is Lullaby.  I think this book is written by a more mature Chuck that the lesser works (those published by Norton, because Random House pays my rent).  Lullaby is the story of a reporter, Mr. Streator, who is writing a five part story on sudden infant death syndrome.  In his interviews with five distraught families, he discovers that one poem from a certain collection of poetry is found at every home.  After reading this "culling poem" to the child at night as a lullaby, the child never wakes.  It dies, but peacefully.  So begins Mr. Streator's own term as an angel of death and leads to an unlikely road trip to track down copies of the book.

'Read' pile on the left,
'To Be Read' on the right....
Crazy alien thing in the middle.
The highlight of Lullaby for me: As someone who drives about 40,000 miles each year, I listen to the radio many, many hours.  Lullaby's protagonist adamantly opposes the noise pollution of contemporary America.  While on the road trip, the group in the car listens to an obvious parody of Dr. Laura, and with a quick mental recitation of the culling poem, "Dr. Sara" drops dead while on the air.  Everyone should rejoice that I don't have this power over others' lives.

Lullaby  does offer an interesting twist on the idea of censorship.  If the world were to discover that a certain poem could kill if overheard, the idea of free speech would be destroyed for our own safety.  I'm willing to argue that Dr. Laura's books kill and should be destroyed, but otherwise I'm with Chuck; free speech must be protected.

Next: Diary

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