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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
A very odd read for me, but interesting all the same. Enjoyed the contrast and wit.