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The Daily Tar Heel

'Lullaby' Offers Readers Challenge

Palahniuk's latest shows growth, depth

"Lullaby"

The newest novel from author Chuck Palahniuk, "Lullaby," is anything but.

Fast-paced, frank and intense, "Lullaby" weaves Palahniuk's characteristic dark style and humor with a refreshingly matured technique -- representing his best work yet.

Though not the full-bodied shot of blood and testosterone found in "Fight Club" -- the cult classic that birthed his fame -- "Lullaby" is still a shocking kick in the teeth.

Murderers are heroes, witches are worshiped, and nothing is safe as a man capable of killing with nothing more than a thought races across the country. But "Lullaby" stands out from other pop-fiction horror books because it isn't really about murder, massacre and mystery.

It is about escaping from an empty existence. It is about self-destruction as a form of revival. It is about breaking away from static comfort to find a new life. It is a downward spiral toward redemption. It is Stephen King with a social theme, mayhem as a metaphor.

This is nothing new for Palahniuk. All of his books revolve around a central figure discontent with life -- a social square peg -- searching for a way to become re-established. But "Lullaby," though it recycles old themes, is strong because of what it accomplishes stylistically.

Instead of myriad snapshots pieced together by mischief, violence or sexual deviance ("Fight Club," "Invisible Monsters," "Choke") Palahniuk's latest is driven by plot and character.

"Lullaby" proves that Palahniuk has grown as a writer without forgetting his past.

His games with words and description are particularly engaging, pouring forth passages of poetic brilliance. Colors, for example, are framed with a depth that captures emotion and symbolism in ways that "red" and "blue" never could.

"Helen's suit is red, but not strawberry red. It's more the red of a strawberry mousse, topped with whipped cr

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