Elze's Reviews > Cat's Cradle

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
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Sep 09, 08

Read in August, 2008, read count: 1

It's been a long time since I enjoyed a book so much. It's strange to say that, because overall I didn't find its conclusion satisfying. However, it's written so well I enjoyed every sentence. Every paragraph, every little episode had something that spoke to me, whether I agreed with it or not. It's a rare experience.

It's too bad I read Kurt Vonnegut for the first time at the age of 12-13. I'm not sure if I read Cat's Cradle or some other books, but they seemed just plain weird and boring to me. I really wasn't old enough to appreciate them, and had no desire to pick up Vonnegut again until we decided to read this book for the Science and Religion in Fiction book club.

The Bokononian religion that plays such a large part in the book, is fascinating. I was very intrigued by the concepts of carass and grandfalloon. I'm totally with Vonnegut on the notion of grandfaloon; I never believed that political and other "formal" associations are entities through which the world works. Same for nations -- I never believed that all individuals of one nation are bound for a common destiny, so I agree with the Cat's Cradle protagonist that nations are false organizations. This makes the concept of carass even more tantalizing. It is tempting to fantasize that each of us belongs to a special group of people all of who, unbeknownst to each other, are working for some kind of purpose for which we are destined. I don't believe that, but that makes it even more fascinating to explore this concept in a book, as if it were real.

The real purpose of the Cat's Cradle protagonist's carass turns out be very depressing and defeatist. But at least, unlike most religions, Bokononism does not offer illusions that our existence on Earth serves higher purpose. If I had to choose a religion at a gunpoint, this would be the one I chose. :-)

What I found dissatisfying about this book is that it very depressingly barrels towards a predictable conclusion. (I guess if I can't accept that, I'm not ready for Bokononism yet. :-)) All the characters in Cat's Cradle are rather passive. They watch what's happening without doing much to stop it. Still, the thickening sense of dread, of impending doom is fascinating. And the characters the protagonist encounters along the way are very real, complex and interesting. All of them are sympathetic, even Felix, the creator of atomic bomb and Ice-9. As scary and inhuman as he seems at first, he has redeeming features, such as dedication to truth.

This book is a fast read, written in a very clear and engaging style. Despite its heavy philosophical ideas, it never slows down. All in all it's a wonderful story.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Goran Funny - I had the opposite feelings about the book - I found the story somewhat boring, but the ending and most of the underlying ideas really fascinating :)


message 2: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Meades I read Cat's Cradle too early too.....didn't quite understand it at age 14 ...


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