I wish the best of studying luck to the some of you who are in school write now (see what I did there). If those day are behind you, then any experience in a high school english classroom may invoke some familiarity with Vonnegut.
You probably know him as the author of the ubiquitous Slaughterhouse Five-the next in my TBR pile. Surprisingly, it has taken seventeen years for me to reach his work. And WHOA am I glad that I did.
Yet, I had to do things the hipster way and start off with one of his lesser known masterpieces. Classic Mhairi. Today, we are going to delve into his 1963 novel Cat’s Cradle.
I can honestly say this is my favorite classic that I’ve come across in at least half a year! Considering I almost exclusively read classics, this is high praise. The narrative packs a punch, the humor is accessible, and all in less than 200 pages.
Vonnegut’s style is pithy and astute. He doesn’t bother with lofty musing or flowing detail; the observations he makes about people are contained in the characterization of their physical habits and individual dialects. There is little extraneous detail, so it is easy for him to get to the nitty gritty detail of human vice and fragility. The space freed from superfluous writing cliches, he is able to write a book brimming with acrid wit and stunning human insight.
That is what Vonnegut does best: self-critical satire.
This book follows the wayward writer John as he writes a book on the creator of the atomic bomb Felix Hoenikker. Written in retrospect by the jaded follower of the nihilistic religion of Bokononism, this original directive is lost as the journey evolves out of control. Led, along with Hoenikker’s children, to the microcosmic island of San Lorenzo, John becomes the president. Led to fate by the mysterious substance ‘ice nine’ that can turn oceans into unmeltable ice, John will fall deeper into the cynical pragmatism of religion revealing boundless understanding of human inner-workings and motivations.
I caught myself laughing out loud wayyy too many times for such a seemingly bleak book. The hilarity of watching the naive characters stumble over the faults they try to hide is worth at least a few episodes of How I Met Your Mother.
If you are looking for a cozy, but not too cozy, fall read this is it. Although morbid at times, it could best be described as a joke at humanity’s expense, and hey having a good laugh at your own expense is a skill worth having. Cat’s Cradle will also make you think. With a good cup of peppermint tea and a semi-conscious post-school brain, this could be your new favorite classic.
Here’s the Amazon Blurb: Cat’s Cradle is Kurt Vonnegut’s satirical commentary on modern man and his madness. An apocalyptic tale of this planet’s ultimate fate, it features a midget as the protagonist, a complete, original theology created by a calypso singer, and a vision of the future that is at once blackly fatalistic and hilariously funny. A book that left an indelible mark on an entire generation of readers, Cat’s Cradle is one of the twentieth century’s most important works—and Vonnegut at his very best.
Get it here! Cat’s Cradle: A Novel
Thanks for reading this a-bit-out-of-the-genre-norm book review and best of luck to those of you starting to study.