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This isn’t my first Chuck Palahniuk book; I read Fight Club a few years ago and there’s not much I can say about it. Because, you know, the first rule about Fight Club is you don’t talk about fight club.
But the style of writing is the same; short, detailed sentences like little bursts of information. Like little bombs that shatter your illusions, like little windows that broaden your horizon. This one was certainly an eye opener.
Ever get cut off in traffic? Or are surrounded by a bunch of completely annoying people who were put on this planet to annoy you? How many times – per minute- would you wish they didn’t exist? How many times – per second – would you silently curse – die, you bastards.
Now imagine a world where they do. Die, that is. The moment you say those magical words. No cause of death, no one can blame you. You can do so from the safety of your own home while they are in the safety (ha ha) of theirs. No one will know it was you. And if they do, well, you have your magic words, don’t you? They haven’t got a chance. So what happens next? How do you use this incredible power? For good? For personal gain? A bit of both? How long until you become dissatisfied with flying under the radar? How long until you begin to think you are above everyone else?
It’s a terrifying tale in so many ways, more so because you ask yourself what you would do in those situations and the answers are not that pretty.
You remember that scene from Friends, where Phoebe calls Ross “Daddy” in a naughty, sexy way and he plays along for half a millisecond but then admits that she’s totally ruined the word for him? Well, meet Mr. Chuck Palahniuk aka Phoebe. He has totally ruined peaceful sleeping babies for me. Going forth, every time I see an infant child I will offer up a small prayer in thanks for the child having made it through the previous night. When I have a kid of my own, I shall probably force my husband to sleep in shifts so that one of us is constantly hovering over the sleeping baby. Ugggggh.
“It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.”
This is not a quote from Lullaby; it’s from Good Omens (Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett). And the whole time I was reading this book, this quote kept running through my head.
There are plenty of things that I didn’t enjoy reading about in this book but that does not mean that they aren’t happening. I’m just good at ignoring them, pretending they don’t concern me, walking around in my own bubble. But this book – and most of Palahniuk’s works, I’m guessing – focuses on those things. He’s that guy who opens up a can of worms in a crowded place, in broad daylight and then stands up on a table waving the darn thing over his head, forcing everybody to acknowledge it.
And that’s precisely why I think this is a great book. Because it made me look at the bigger picture, made me realize that even a regular action (like buying eggs or milk, or cursing someone in traffic might have some grave, grave consequences.