Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Published: 1998 Dell Publishing (orig. 1963)
Read For: Personal Challenge (5 Books From the Top 5 of 2010)
My Rating: 3.5
All right, book number 2 I've read by Kurt Vonnegut. I settled on reading Cat's Cradle, (when I had been thinking of going with Breakfast of Champions,) because that's what my Local Indie Book Shop had in stock (as well as Timequake...but I know next to nothing about Vonnegut and his novels, so I made an uniformed impulsive decision.)
Slaughterhouse Five made it to my Top 5 of 2010 list, largely because of the unique writing, and I wanted to experience more of it. Cat's Cradle grabbed me: the format of having a bazillion chapters (well, 127) in so few pages, combined with the humor that had me laughing instantly, and I was ready to dive in. The first line(s):
Call me Jonah. My parents did, or nearly did. They called me John....and so starts a story of the end of the world. For that is what the narrator sets out to tell, although he believes it will have a marked different ending than it ends up happening. Before you even turn from the first page, you get straight into the story.
When I was a younger man--two wives ago, 250,000 cigarettes ago, 3,000 quarts of booze ago...
When I was a much younger man, I began to collect material for a book to be called The Day the World Ended.
The book was to be factual.
The books was to be an account of what important Americans had done on the day when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.
It was to be a Christian book. I was a Christian then.I love the writing, I really do. I think I'll be reading Vonnegut's works for a long time simply because the writing is so much fun (and it is quick to read--bonus!). But the story on this one just wasn't as fascinating to me as was the one in Slaughterhouse Five. The storyline and characters started to feel a little Dickensian (I seem to be sensitive to that at the moment, anything slightly bizarre seems to be straight from the pen of Dickens) and was told in a much more straightforward manner than Slaughterhouse Five was, making it feel a bit less unique.
Still, he does say a lot with few words, (always amazing to me,) and relates a heavy message in a humorous voice, (a baffling talent). There are all kinds of themes here to expound upon if you're up to it. The issues presented (God, science, government, etc.) felt a little ho-hum to me, though that may be just my personal interest level (or lack thereof).
So this one won't be making it to any of my "Best Of" lists, but neither has it lowered my opinion of Vonnegut. Next time I'm in my bookshop I just may hold out for Breakfast of Champions...maybe I'll have a bit better luck with that one?