Shoma Patnaik's Reviews > Timequake

Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut
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Aug 30, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: 2011, america, humour, military, not-owned, philosophy, politics, satire, science-fiction, society, war
Read from August 06 to 08, 2011

Only Kurt Vonnegut can write a book about not writing a book and get away with it. Almost.

Timequake is basically an essay on time, on destruction and on free will thrown in together with a loose tale about a timequake that sends everyone back ten years, Kilgore Trout storylettes and plenty of trademark Vonnegut quotable quotes ("... AIDS and new strains of syph and clap and the blueballs were making the rounds like Avon ladies run amok.")

I found the theme of free will interesting. Vonnegut compares World War II to a timequake: he describes his time as a soldier as a suspension of freewill. How many of us are living in a timequake even now? Do we really make decisions because we want to? It seems that giving in to your desires is the easiest thing in the world, but I've discovered that it's much easier to do what you think you "should" than to do what you love.

The little Trout stories sprinkled through are always interesting to read, as is the fact that Vonnegut pegs Trout's death down to the age of 84; Vonnegut, bless his soul, died at 84. So it goes. On the other hand, this book feels essentially incomplete: the characters, the plots never come into their own. At times, it feels downright lazy.

So, why did I like this book? Because it's honest, unpretentious and direct. In that Vonnegut always reminds me of Mark Twain and through Twain he presents his other theme. Twain said, "I have never wanted any released friend of mine restored to life since I reached manhood." Vonnegut says, "For practically everybody, the end of the world can’t come soon enough." Is this the reason why we have wars, why we simply choose to wipe out entire races? That we are, at the heart of it all, ashamed to live?

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