Thursday, September 6, 2007


By Chuck Palahniuk

Helen Boyle is a real estate agent making a quiet fortune reselling the same haunted homes over and over again. She has very expensive tastes, few morals and the ability to kill people just by thinking a certain poem at them. Carl Streator is a reporter doing a series on crib death. After visiting these scenes of infant death and seeing the same book of nursery rhymes open to the page at multiple locations, he starts to put a few things together. He, like Helen, had discovered the culling song, a death lullaby from Africa meant to ease starving children during famines, mortally ill individuals and the elderly into a peaceful death. Soon he discovers he only needs to think the poem at someone and they drop dead. Helen and Carl team up with Mona, Helen's flaky wiccan assistant, and Oyster, Mona's boyfriend and eco-terrorist, to road trip across the county to destroy every remaining copy of the culling song.
There is a lot going on in this book. Symbolism is everywhere and there is a lot of questioning about the true nature of morality in the modern age. In an over populated, environmentally wounded world, do right and wrong alter? But all the big stuff aside, I really enjoyed the details. A real estate agent deliberately seeking out homes where the walls bleed, dead babies cry in walls and phantoms circle the dining room so she turn them over multiple times is a concept that will keep me giggling for a long time. At one point Carl kills a Dr. Laura-type just by listening to her morally judging on the radio. He then "accidentally" kills anyone who comes onto the radio to mourn her lose. The song just flies through his brain. True to Palahniuk, the book is bizarre from beginning to end and a great read. Go to for the official Palahniuk site.