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Palahniuk's Best Yet!
on September 18, 2002
Chuck Palahniuk has a knack for capturing the pressures of modern life, and the resulting angst and alienation of the people who inhabit it. To that extent, Lullaby is no different from Choke or Fight Club. This really isn't a twist on the horror story as some of the media reviews have made it out to be.
There's the emotionally scarred main protagonist with a dark past secret waiting to be dredged up who surrounds him or herself with a surrogate family. There's the rants against modernity and consumerism and their resulting compulsions. There's the quest on which the main characters embark that culminates in an anarchic free for all. There's the identity switches between characters. And, of course, there's Palahniuk's wisecracks, smart-[aleck] asides, and spare, almost hard-boiled writing style.
Palahniuk does all this so well, so uniquely, that his fans are not going to be disappointed with Lullaby.
What makes Lullaby different from what has come before, and what makes Lullaby his best novel, is that he seems to tackle his usual themes a bit more thoroughly and directly than he has before. And for the first time, Palahniuk introduces the notion of modern access to information as something to really worry about, rather than accept as something that will liberate society. The device he uses here is an ancient African culling spell. A magical spell that poses as a deadly information virus.
If there is anything that is unsatisfying it's the ending, which in typical Palahniuk fashion, resolves the fate in an anarchic free for all of outlandishness. It seems like Palahniuk plots his novels into dead ends, leaving him no way out to end his novels, and he has to resort to, well, what happens in Lullaby.
But that doesn't make Lullaby an unsatisfying novel. And, in the strange world that Palahniuk's characters inhabit, which is still identifiably the world we live in today, the way Palahniuk unravels it all seems to make the only sense in light of what's come before in the novel.
So far, Palahniuk can do no wrong.