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To say that I worship at the alter of Kurt Vonnegut would be more mawkish than overstated. He is and will probably always remain one of my all-time, favorite authors. When picking up a book, one can only hope that the author can write; the surprise comes when an author’s contributions transcend what is on the printed page. Such is usually the case with KV. Not only can he write his butt off, he has the absolutely, incredible talent to hold up this mirror for all of us to see the travesty of so much we hold sacred in this American Experience and then laugh at the same time that we cry at our reflection.
About writing itself, KV once said in an interview, “Well, I've worried some about, you know, why write books ... why are we teaching people to write books when presidents and senators do not read them, and generals do not read them. And it's been the university experience that taught me that there is a very good reason, that you catch people before they become generals and presidents and so forth and you poison their minds with ... humanity, and however you want to poison their minds, it's presumably to encourage them to make a better world.” Bottom line for me, that’s what KV’s writings are always about: Humanity.
In 1971 the University of Chicago awarded KV his Master's degree in anthropology for Cat's Cradle. While at first blush that might seem a bit over the top, after reading this treatise on such subjects as science and technology, religion and morality, ethics and law, it becomes quite clear about his critique, KV did his homework. And, the originality of his work is unmistakeable. There are folks out there today such as Al Franken and Jon Stewart for whom KV had to have been an influence. KV was one of the originators of the movement for modern, self-reflection at least in contemporary America. That being said, this is not an unapproachable work reserved for the academic elite. This book is for the entertainment and edification of anyone and everyone: the unread generals, unwashed presidents and your any, off-the-street, Joe Blow, the Plummer. I cannot imagine anyone with a scintilla of humanity not loving this book. You're not into social critique you say. Great, read it just for the fun of it. It is funnier than _ _ _ _, well, it's just plain fun.
The narration could have possibly been done differently and still worked. It's hard to believe that it could have been done better.
32 of 37 people found this review helpful
THE SECRET OF LIFE.......PROTEIN
When I was in my twenties I read the hard copy. In my forties I listened on cassette and now in my fifties I downloaded it. I still don't like it.
WHAT IS SIN?
If you are a Douglass Adams fan, you will probably like this. Now that I am older I do find that I understand more of it. I like books with plots and this plot is very thin. It is a thesis on War, Government and whatever else ticks off Kurt. There are some laugh out loud parts, but most of it is meandering POETIC CRAP.
TO BE SOMETHING ELSE AND PROUD OF IT.
The narrator is fantastic. He reads great and does outstanding characters. His timing in excellent, helping the listener to catch some of the jokes, he may not catch while reading.
Most people either love him or hate him. There is not much middle of the road. In my twenties I thought he was silly, in my forties I just did not find him funny. In my fifties, I need a plot.
15 of 17 people found this review helpful
I don't have much exposure to American literature but this was the start of a love affair with the short novel. Vonnegut has a great way of getting to the point, making subtle points about human nature and he seems to be obsessed by fate. It seriously expanded my choice of books.
If you like your stories rooted in reality, then this one might not be for you but otherwise there's humanity in this story and a plot that holds you attention. A great book.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Vonnegut makes me laugh. The world he creates is ridiculous, but equally it has all the foibles and cruelty of the real world. For fun, and to add to the despair there is the religion of Bokononism. A religion that is hypocritical, false and cruel. A religion that offers some sense of acceptance of life, but only if we accept that it's falseness is the only solution to the madness that men perpetrate. The Cat's Cradle is the metaphor for the world of the book; playful, complex; a trick.The reading of the audiobook is not too cynical and not too flat; just right.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Or the context. Either way, I didn't really enjoy it all that much (aside from a few moments of black humour).
I have never read anti-utopia story like this. Truly authentic. It's very powerful how Vonnegut talk about serious social issues using very simple language constructions.
Tony Roberts has made this book even more enjoyable by the way he vocalizes each character.
And bonus interview with the author in the end is very interesting.