With Fight Club and Choke, Chuck Palahniuk established his reputation as a tricky, unpredictable writer with enormous gifts and a highly individual vision. Lullaby -- an odd, unsettling, memorable, yet uncategorizable novel -- builds squarely on that foundation.
Researching a series of articles on sudden infant death syndrome, reporter Carl Streator uncovers a curious coincidence: At each crib-death site, he finds the very same book, Poems and Rhymes Around the World, always open to the same African lullaby. By way of experiment, he recites the lullaby to his editor, who dies the following evening. Convinced that he's stumbled onto a piece of dark, murderous magic, Streator hits the road on a mission to destroy all existing copies of Poems and Rhymes, accompanied by an eccentric team that includes two members of a local coven and a real estate agent who specializes in haunted houses. What follows is a charmingly demented road novel that moves from California to New York to New Mexico to Florida and encompasses witchcraft, militant vegetarianism, serial murder, political assassination, and ecological disaster.
Beneath its lurid, supernatural surface, Lullaby is a deeply serious work that has much to say about the pressures and problems of a frantic, overstimulated society. Magic, as Palahniuk describes it, is a potent metaphor for the endless distractions of seductive, predatory media, for the forces that invade -- and control -- our every waking moment, bombarding us endlessly with sensory input and mostly useless information. By turns funny, outrageous, and frightening, Lullaby is the work of a writer deeply attuned to the traumas and distortions of contemporary life.