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Saturday, November 20, 2010

A review of Kurt Vonneguts "Cats Cradle"

Ok, first I want to say I'm sorry I know posting has been slow lately, work has been hell and I've been sleeping like shit. I'm sure none of you want to hear me bitch when it's not funny so I'll go straight into the review.

I tried to write this with as few spoilers as possible and without giving away the ending, it's rather difficult as most things in this book are woven together to where pulling one destroys the whole tapestry.

Disclaimer: "All of the true things that I am about to tell you are shameless lies."

All in all this was a wonderfully written book by one of Americas most influential authors.

Kurt Vonnegut


Vonnegut is also known for his other works such as "Slaughterhouse-Five"  and "Breakfast of Champions."

Vonnegut enlisted into the US Army in the Early forties while attending college at Cornell University.
He fought and was subsequently captured during the Battle of the Bulge, there are several rumours surrounding the condition of his capture but I'll not get into that here.

Vonnegut's experience in the military reflected heavily in his writing, his experience as a POW was his largest influence in writing "Slaughterhouse-Five". (While captured he was held with other POW's in the basement of what the Wehrmacht [German Army] called Slaughterhouse-Five)

Now onto "Cats Cradle", Written in 1963 Vonnegut explores science, technology, religeon, social interaction, love, passion and  life responsibilities. a tall order for such a short read.

The narrator/author identifies himself as an everyman named John or Jonah and he quickly identifies himself as a bokononist an obscure religeon you learn more about later in the book.

The first half of the book takes place in a small town called Illium in New York, there he interviews Felix Hoenikkers co-workers and loose associates (the man apparently had no friends).

Vonnegut does a masterful job of teasing the literary palette before subtly changing directions in the story and running the reader down a new tangent.

Half-way between Jonah's trip from Illium to his trip to San Lorenzo he returns to his apartment, that he had allowed a nihilistic poet to stay in during his trip to Illium, only to find his apartment wrecked,, his cat violated, and strange poetry written on the walls.

Through out the book Jonah makes references to his religeon, Bokononism its creation as well as life lessons.

A Sample from the books of Bokonon:

"The Seventh Book: Bokonon's Republic"

[ "...a whole book about Utopias". [ 126 ] ]
"The hand that stocks the drug stores rules the world.
Let us start our Republic with a chain of drug stores, a chain of grocery stores, a chain of gas chambers, and a national game. After that we can write our Constitution."

Among the science and technology aspects of the book is a minute molecular substance called ice-nine, a potential doomsday particle which strangely enough revolves around the stacking of cannon balls.

Jonahs primary interactions are with the three Hoenikker Newt, (The Midget) Frank (The Military leader and model maker) and Angela (The Amazonian Clarinet player).

The book it's self is an excellent read that could be knocked out in an afternoon by a truly dedicated reader, I recommend multiple readings to absorb all of the little things that get overlooked the first time.

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