Two things I love about Chuck Palahniuk’s work. First, his imagination. Where does he come up with this stuff? Second: his ability to nail all the neurotic tendencies of my generation: all the craziness, the weirdness, the dark side (well, not necessarily “dark” because it is often infused with a generous amount of satire and humor, but I think you get the idea). He nails my generation’s eccentricities and weirdness on the head each and every time. Oh, and there’s a third thing I love about his work: his ability to weave in things into the stories that make them about more than the actual story being told. Example: in “Lullaby” there is a lot about animal rights and ecological issues, mainly spoken through the mouth of the character “Oyster”. At it’s core “Lullaby” is basically a cross between a horror story and a Noir but with all this other stuff mixed in that makes it a truly enjoyable book. Strip away Palahniuk’s touches and the plot could have very well been straight out of aStephen King novel. The story is basically about a reporter covering a story about a rash of sudden infant death syndrome taking place due to the reading of a “Culling Song”, an African lullaby usually sung to ease the pain of those who are sick or infirm. Add to this the supernatural and a witches coven disguising itself as a Real Estate agency, and I think you get the picture as to where this one is going.
“Diary” is another novel which could be considered “Horror” but more psychological in nature. Again, we have Palahniuk weaving in the history of art and the idea of where one gets their inspiration from; what motivates those who have the drive to create. This is all under the surface, of course. On the surface, it is a quasi-supernatural tale involving a conspiracy theory to commit insurance fraud. However, there is something else under the surface: the idea of ridding “invaders” who are thought to be “ruining one’s way of life”. The style of this novel seemed different for Palahniuk. It is written in the form of a diary to someone in a coma, explaining everything that happened after he fell victim to what many at first believed was a suicide attempt. You’ll have to read it to see that there’s more going on.
I’ve been reading Palahniuk’s novels beginning with the excellent “Fight Club” and working my way, in order, to the most current. One reason is that I want to see how he progresses (if he progresses, that is) and clear the field for his upcoming weirdness called “Damned”. So far I’ve been enjoying them but some more than others, which I think is only natural. I would recommend these two, although I preferred “Lullaby”.