Call me Jonah.
My boyfriend recommended this to me with “It’s really weird, but I think you’ll like it”. I didn’t find it that ‘really weird’. I don’t know what that says about me or the books I read.
Jonah (or whatever his name is) tries to write a book about the children of the Father of the Atomic Bomb. Those three are not your ordinary humans. Which is a good thing, because Jonah isn’t either.
Things happen, they travel to San Lorenzo, more things happen; as does the end of the world.
Cat’s Cradle was like a Where’s Waldo of metaphors and hints to real life during the time Vonnegut wrote it. Recognizing the commentary added a second layer to the novel. Usually I’m not such a big fan of working to Get The Message, but Vonnegut manages to communicate it without smacking you around the head with it. The embarrassing Americans? The “illegal” religion kept alive by the government? The fictional country of San Lorenzo? I wish I could have read this book for English, so I could dissect it until the final comma and discuss the whats and whos. Now I’ll have to find another way.
If I remember correctly I wasn’t sure about Kurt Vonnegut after reading Slaughterhouse 5. If I liked his work or if I liked his ideas and how slim his novels were. I’m pretty sure I like his work.
Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut, Penguin Books 2008
All this happened, more or less.
Two people close to me told me they weren’t sure this was a book I was going to like. One of them said I shouldn’t count the ‘So it goes’. The text on the back warned me for potential philosophic babble.
This all accounted to me expecting an not-understandable mass of deliriously written paragraphs without a (satisfying) end. I braced myself.
For me – and I realize that I might be looking at this story in just one dimension – Slaughterhouse-5 wasn’t a mess. In fact, it was pretty coherent and I enjoyed several parts of it.
Protagonist Billy Pilgrim survives World War 2 and a plane crash, travels through time, is abducted by aliens and is -by a lot of people- seen as an idiot. The reader follows his travel and his thoughts and as Pilgrim isn’t much impressed with either, nor is the reader.
What I like most, or can appreciate about this book, is that you can take several things from it. Is it but a fantasy in the mind of the ‘I’ person? Is Vonnegut ‘I’ or Pilgrim? Is this nothing more but a War Is Bad message with a lot of pomp? Do you believe Billy Pilgrim or is he sorriest sod alive? Is this even a book? If the reader wants to, it can create different puzzles from the same pieces.
I recommend this novel. It isn’t too crazy, too plain, too fantastical or too boring. It’s a nice puzzle, for the reader to decide what to take away from it.
Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut, Dell 1991 (repr.)