It was a hot afternoon, and I was lying over the covers on my bed next to a cute girl. The open window to our right cooled us with a light breeze as we both read our separate books. She told me she was reading about a girl who decided to live a greener life by making a small change every day for a year. She said it was informative, inspirational, funny, and changing her for the better.
Then she asked what I was reading, to which I had to respond, “It’s a book about an old African song…that…kills babies.”
So I read her the first paragraph of the chapter I was on:
The muffled thunder of dialogue comes through the walls, then a chorus of laughter. Then more thunder. Most of the laugh tracks on television were recorded in the early 1950s. These days, most of the people you hear laughing are dead.
…awkward, but I regret nothing!
It’s hard to argue that this isn’t a bummer of a book, but that’s Palahniuk’s specialty – the twisted and morose. The main character is a journalist who’s given the assignment to write a series of articles on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It’s his job to notice details, and he begins to piece together a pattern in each of the cases. At the scene of each tragedy is a book of poems and rhythms, many of which are still left open to a specific lullaby.
Chuck Palahniuk is a great writer. He paces his stories perfectly, his metaphors and analogies can ring so true they stop you dead on the page, and the third chapter in this book might just be flawless from start to finish. My only gripe, and this is common among many of his books I’ve read, is that there’s usually no one to really support or cheer along. He loves despicable characters, and I really like that he takes that route, as it makes for a unique reading experience, but I do find that I’m not as driven to pick up the book when I’m midway through as I might be if I really cared about the characters. It’s not a huge problem, though, as his writing always brings me back.
This is one of my favourite Palahniuk books, right up there with Choke and Fight Club.