Lullaby: A Novel


Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club, Survivor, Invisible Monsters, Choke.

Central Theme
Words are powerful and can be harmful, yet words can lose their power when trivialized. Empowered trivialized words pose a grave threat.

Carl Streator Is a newspaper reporter who is asked to do a five-part series on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, crib death. The story is inspired by a sudden rash of SID’s in his local community. In his investigation he discovers that each of these children was read the same nursery rhyme from a very cheap anthology of nursery rhymes and lullabies the night before it died. Whoever published this book, has accidentally picked up an ancient African curse called a culling song, used for euthanizing people in their sleep. Streator has no idea how many of these books are in the world and how many people might be dying because of this one nursery rhyme. In trying to find the copies and destroy them he keeps finding people who already know about the power of this rhyme and are using it already to resolve things in their lives

Beliefs num
–It is not true that sticks and bones may break your bones but words will never harm you.
–Words are powerful; they can result in life or death.
–The media is possessing us with words.
–Corporate America is possessing the world with products and advertising.
–All of us are haunted and haunting through the words we absorb and disseminate.
–To break the spell of obtrusive influence you must actually rebel against yourself.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–What is the impact of the sheer volume and manipulative insincerity of words today’s world?
–Are words possessing us?
–Is consumerism a symptom of possession?
–Are we losing our authentic self?
–How do we regain control of our lioves and words?

Provocative Quotes byline
–The way you can go to Paris or Beijing, where there’s a McDonald hamburger, this is the ecological equivalent of franchised life forms. Every place is the same place. Kudzus, zebra muscles, water hyacinths, starlings, Burger Kings, the local natives. Anything unique gets squeezed out. The only biodiversity we’re going to have left is Coke versus Pepsi. We’re landscaping the whole world one stupid mistake at a time.
–Sticks and stones will break your bones, but now words can kill too. The new death, this plague can come from anywhere, a song, an overheard announcement, a news bulletin, a sermon, a street musician; you can catch death from a telemarketer, a teacher, an internet file, a birthday card, a fortune cookie, a million people might watch a television show then be dead the next morning because of an advertising jingle.
==Lullaby narrator.
–You ever wonder if Adam and Eve were just the puppies God dumped because they wouldn’t house train. He rolls down the window and the smell blows inside, the stinking warm wind of dead fish. And shouting against the wind he says, ¢â‚¬ËœMaybe humans are just the pet alligators that God flushed down the toilet.’
–Maybe acts of God are just the right combination. You know, media junk thrown out into the air, the wrong words collide and call up an earthquake. The way rain dances called storms. The right combination of words might call down tornadoes. Too many advertising jingles co-mingling could be behind global warming. Too many television reruns bouncing around might cause hurricanes, cancer, AIDS.
== Lullaby narrator.
–Old George Orwell got it backward. Big Brother isn’t watching. He’s singing and dancing. He’s pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother’s busy holding your attention every moment you’re awake. He’s making sure you’re fully absorbed. He’s making sure your imagination withers. Until it’s useless as your appendix. He’s making sure your attention is always filled. And this being fed. It’s worse than being watched¢â‚¬¦With everyone’s imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world.
== Lullaby narrator.
–Do we have it or does God dictate and script everything? Do we have free will or do the mass media in our culture control us, our desires and actions.
== Lullaby narrator regarding free will.
–This is the world I live in, this far from God. These are the people I’m left with. Everybody grabbing for power. Mona and Helen and Nash and Oyster. The only people who know me hate me. We all hate each other. We all fear each other. The whole world is my enemy.
–Imagine if Jesus chased you around trying to catch you and save your soul, not just a patient, passive God, but a hard-working, aggressive bloodhound.
–While I sit and wait for the police to save me, to deliver me to God, and reunite me with humanity, the siren wails, drowning out everything, and I’m glad.
==Carl on his need for reconciliation to God and humans.
–You are the culture’s medium, the host. Some people still think they run their own lives. You are the possessed. We’re all of us haunting and haunted. Something foreign is always living itself through you. Your whole life is the vehicle for something else to come to earth, an evil spirit, a theory, a marketing campaign, a political strategy, a religious doctrine.
== Lullaby narrator.
–Do I really want a big house? A fast car? Do I want these things or am I trained to want them? Are these things really better than the things I already have or am I just trained to be dissatisfied with what I have now?
== Lullaby narrator on power of media through advertising.
–We are the culture that cried wolf.
== Lullaby narrator.
–I need to rebel against myself.

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