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Carl Streator has the scoop of a lifetime, the kind of story that makes Watergate look like a fluff piece. But if Streator breaks the news, his article could be the last ever written. In Lullaby—a novel by Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk—Streator, a loner journalist, has been assigned to write a series of stories about sudden infant death syndrome. During the course of his reporting, he stumbles upon an anthology of poems that contains a deadly lullaby of sorts called a “culling song.” When parents read it to their infants, the kids die. Streator, in disbelief, tests the power of the poem by reciting it to his editor. His boss dies. Streator soon realizes that simply thinking of the words internally can polish off anyone in his vicinity. With this realization, Streator’s expose transforms into an emergency cover-up—not an easy task for a dogged newshound. “You don’t become a reporter because you’re good at keeping secrets,” says Streator. “Being a journalist is about telling. It’s about bearing the bad news. Spreading the contagion.” Streator’s humanitarian impulses ultimately triumph over his professional duties, and he ditches town in an all-out effort to eradicate the poem. Throughout, Palahniuk deftly develops his thematic infatuation with the mass media, its overconsumption, and its ability to warp individuality. He’s here at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2, at Olsson’s Books & Records, 1200 F St. NW. Free. (202) 347-3686. (Felix Gillette)