Friday, December 7, 2012

Cat’s CradleCat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Vonnegut is always a unique, and undeniably curious read, compelling in ways that defy the standard literary experience. For many, he's an acquired taste, heady as opposed to emotionally rewarding. His concerns in this absurd, satirical, dystopic tale about an author's quest to document the events surrounding the founder of the atom bomb's last day on earth, are as large as they come; the contemporary political, social, cultural and religious landscape. And as a satire he walks a fine line between a narrative that is hard to take seriously (characters are caricature, plot and dialogue carry little veracity) and an underlying message that is deadly serious. You never know whether to laugh or cry and I spent most of my time doing neither. I shook my head instead. As the story shifts to the tiny Carribean island of San Lorenzo, and with the injection of faux-spriritual Bokonist aphorisms, the novel began feeling somewhat dated, recalling a time when Cold War ideology ruled the decisions of regimes and men, the US supported South American dictators in a bid to stave off Soviet expansionism in the Western Hemisphere, and the threat of a world-ending nuclear war peperpetually hung in the air. Then again, the ideological machinations of leaders still appear to hold sway, as the disastrous effect of three decades of neo-conservative fiscal policy in the US has shown. But is this a novel we're talking about? Well, yes and no. That's just the kind of book Cat's Cradle is. When you want to talk about the book it's not actually about the book.

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