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We Are What We Pretend To Be shows the evolution of Kurt Vonnegut’s writing at the beginning and end of his career. It contains two of the author’s works. His first novella, Basic Training stands in stark contrast to his unfinished novel If God Were Alive Today. The former is a rather straight forward satire on the military, authoritarian parenting and authoritarianism in general. The latter is a completely wild and nutty, satirical look at our ignorance and denial of an apocalyptic future. Recently, I listened to a radio ad for The Last Warcrime. While I agreed with the message, the way the ad was delivered left something to be desired. I felt a little of that in IGWAT.
While the nexus of the two works is unmistakably satire, the whole feel, vocabulary and styles of writing in the two books could easily have been written by different authors. I think we hear the voice of Vonnegut in Basic Training but it is definitely a younger although not immature one. In the latter, the author comes across definitely older and more irascible, more universal and less personal.
While this might be his first and last work, I think most of KV's finest work is in many places in between. For someone new to KV, I would not recommend starting here. Slaughterhouse-Five, Cat’s Cradle or my personal favorite The Sirens of Titan would be a better introduction to the author. For hardcore KV fans, WAWWPTB is probably essential reading.
This is a quick read/listen. The narration in my Audible selection is quite good. Plus, in this edition, the author’s daughter Nanette shares reminiscences about her father and a commentary on these two works.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Absolutely. It is amazing to see where he went throughout his life and career. To hear his first book and his last book together is like having a glimpse into how he grew over the years.
What did you like best about this story?
I enjoyed following Vonnegut's changing style and view of the world.
Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
I've not heard any other performances by any of the narrators but I thought they were all excellent.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
There were two stories. The end of the first story was extremely heartening. The end of the second story was like bringing everything home. It was great for closure.
Any additional comments?
This was an excellent book. Any fans of Kurt Vonnegut would be wise to buy it!