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Cat's Cradle
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Monthly Reading: Discussion > April 2019 "Cat's Cradle" <No Spoilers>

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message 1: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kateblue | 3542 comments Mod
Group Read #30


message 2: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Art | 2540 comments Mod
Will be starting Monthly Reads with this one. It will be my first Vonnegut novel and I don't know what to expect.


message 3: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 3 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3330 comments Mod
I started it today and I plan to be over by tomorrow, for it is quite short. So far (about 1/3) it is a nice clean concise prose with short chapters, which I guess were intended as anecdotes with a punch line but they don't catch me as witty. There were several good moments though


message 4: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 626 comments Art wrote: "Will be starting Monthly Reads with this one. It will be my first Vonnegut novel and I don't know what to expect."

I envy you. I've read quite a few of his books, so can't be surprised anymore.

I read this about 30 years ago. May possibly re-read with you because it is short and I may understand it differently at my more advanced age.


message 5: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Art | 2540 comments Mod
Ed, how does this novel compare to his other works? Is it a decent representative of it?


message 6: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 626 comments Art wrote: "Ed, how does this novel compare to his other works? Is it a decent representative of it?"

It is pretty representative of his fiction. Though, if I remember correctly, it contains few if any references to his real life, which he does often do. If one novel stands out as unique, that would be Slaughterhouse Five, though even that one isn't really so different.

I just read "Timequake". It mixes up fact and fiction in an interesting way and is partly a memorial for his brother. At one point Kurt was employed by the same company where his brother Bernard worked as a scientist studying water and ice and such. One project involved seeding clouds to produce rain. As you will see in Cat's Cradle there is a substance called Ice Nine. There really is such as thing as ice viiii, and Bernard studied forms of ice, however the details of its properties do not match with the real substance.

You have to be careful with Vonnegut like that. He will present 'facts' that you shouldn't swallow whole. He's a trickster. In Galapagos he talks about an iguana basking in the sun in order to cook the seaweed that it ate which would be indigestible if not cooked, and a vampire finch that attacks humans. Neither story is exactly true. link.

"Timequake" included birds that explode after eating a combination of bugs and fungus. I'll let you figure out the truth of that one.


message 7: by Bryan, Village Idiot (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan | 481 comments Mod
I started this book a few days ago. I'm about half way through the book and I'm not fully behind it yet. I've read Slaughterhouse 5 and really enjoyed it, but I'm not sure of this one. I'm looking forward to seeing other's comments.


message 8: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 3 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3330 comments Mod
What do you people thing of his writing style? For me his vocabulary sounds intentionally quite simplified, like he tells his biographic story for anyone to understand.

Is the satire about the US-backed dictators on tropical islands a bit dated?


message 9: by Bryan, Village Idiot (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan | 481 comments Mod
You know, I was thinking the same thing today this morning while listening to it on my drive to work. I was thinking his vocabulary sounds like he is explaining something to a child. I don't remember Slaughterhouse 5 being that way. But his writing style is unique and I like it for the most part.

The book was published in 1963...but sadly no, it doesn't feel dated yet...


message 10: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Art | 2540 comments Mod
Started on this last night, got through a fifth of it before nodding off. It's an easy read and though it's not "ha-ha" funny I am enjoying it, found some of the passages as rather witty.

@Ed
Exploding birds sound disturbing, could you post the species name so I make sure none are nesting in my area? Thanks.


message 11: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 626 comments You'll have to read Timequake to find the species.


message 12: by Bryan, Village Idiot (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan | 481 comments Mod
Just finished the book. The benefit of audiobooks is at times you get an interview with the author. This is one of those books that has Kurt Vonnegut being interview by his friend and fellow WW2 veteran, Walter Miller. It's always interesting to here them talk about their work.


message 13: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 3 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3330 comments Mod
Bryan wrote: "The benefit of audiobooks is at times you get an interview with the author."

The one where they mention Catch-22 and its allusions, which no one noted?


message 14: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 626 comments I started Catch-22 once but couldn't get interested. I should try again.


message 15: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Art | 2540 comments Mod
Ed wrote: "I started Catch-22 once but couldn't get interested. I should try again."

I've had to force myself through Catch-20, had it been a 40-page story I would not mind it a bit. It gets repetitive VERY quick, the style gets annoying soon after that and you stop caring completely some time in between.


message 16: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kateblue | 3542 comments Mod
I started Catch-22 years ago and never got through it. It's funny how the phrase has incorporated itself into English, though.


message 17: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 3 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3330 comments Mod
Catch-22 was a big hit in the USSR because the usual approach to the WWII was a lot of tragedy and pathos, and here it is the opposite, so it was mindblowing


message 18: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Apr 07, 2019 08:22PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Art | 2540 comments Mod
I'm very much surprised how democratic Vonnegut gets with his jokes, funny anecdotes followed by terrible puns, witty satire interrupted by horrendous poetry.


message 19: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 3 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3330 comments Mod
Art wrote: "I'm very much surprised how democratic Vonnegut gets with his jokes, funny anecdotes followed by terrible puns, witty satire interrupted by horrendous poetry."

I think puns weren't that terrible, esp. coming from mad people, like 're-search' fro the elevator man. Poetry is, I guess, intentionally simple - for uneducated masses - just check actual calypso tunes from those times


message 20: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Art | 2540 comments Mod
I hear what you're saying, Z. Just was surprised to see the writing itself all over the place, from brilliant to outright embarrassing.

Btw "calypso" tunes aren't really from 1960s though. We're talking Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Animals and the beginning of the "British Invasion". Saw a documentary on that subject beginning of the year, great stuff.


message 21: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 3 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3330 comments Mod
Art wrote: "Btw "calypso" tunes aren't really from 1960s though."

I know, it is more of the 40s-50s thing in terms of popularity. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calypso...


message 22: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Apr 08, 2019 06:33AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Art | 2540 comments Mod
In any case, it's not the music that interested me.

Do you think some of the writing that was not on par was intentionally made appear so? Since it's the character telling us his story, author shares his voice with that of the character. Is some of the writing intentionally clumsy to reflect in a way on the character himself?

It is something that made me think a lot in regards not only to this book but many others written is the same style.


message 23: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 3 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3330 comments Mod
Art wrote: "Do you think some of the writing that was not on par was intentionally made appear so? "

I guess it is entirely possible because his other works (at least Slaughterhouse-Five) are a bit different


message 24: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 626 comments Art wrote: "I'm very much surprised how democratic Vonnegut gets with his jokes, funny anecdotes followed by terrible puns, witty satire interrupted by horrendous poetry."

In some novels he also includes his own drawings. Most notably in Breakfast of Champions.

I don't remember the exact details, but at some point a character is called an asshole, so Vonnegut draws us a picture of an asshole. It looks like this: *


message 25: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Art | 2540 comments Mod
The book didn't work for me, there's not even tat much to discuss there imho. Glad I've read it but will not be recommending it to anybody I know.


message 26: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 3 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3330 comments Mod
Art wrote: "The book didn't work for me, there's not even tat much to discuss there imho. Glad I've read it but will not be recommending it to anybody I know."

For me Kurt Vonnegut reads as a mix of SF (almost borderline in definition) and contemporary fiction. Maybe that's what put you off


Antti Värtö (andekn) | 714 comments I liked it, but of the three Vonnegut books (this, Slaughterhouse Five and Mother Night) I've read, this was probably the weakest. Still, it was funny enough in that quirky, twisted Vonnegut way.


message 28: by Phil (last edited Apr 28, 2019 08:56AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Phil (turbulent_architect) Currently on page 180 and will probably be finishing today. Slaughterhouse-Five has been my favourite work of fiction for the better part of a decade now, but I'm really not sure about this one. There are flashes of brilliance here and there, but so far it seems to revel a little too much in its own gleeful negativity—I am unpleasantly reminded of The Crying of Lot 49.


message 29: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Apr 28, 2019 05:58PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Art | 2540 comments Mod
Philippe-Antoine wrote: "Currently on page 180 and will probably be finishing today. Slaughterhouse-Five has been my favourite work of fiction for the better part of a decade now, but I'm really not sure about this one. Th..."

Glad to see you participating in our Monthly Read discussions! I agree that there were some interesting moments here and there, but I just could never get behind the simplistic style and childish jokes.

Looking forward to more of Vonnegut's work though! Glad to hear more praise in Slaughterhouse-Five's address.


message 30: by Phil (last edited Apr 28, 2019 07:45PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Phil (turbulent_architect) Art wrote: "Philippe-Antoine wrote: "Currently on page 180 and will probably be finishing today. Slaughterhouse-Five has been my favourite work of fiction for the better part of a decade now, but I'm really no..."

Which jokes did you find childish? I certainly haven't had that impression at all. Nor do I think I would say that the style is simplistic. What exactly do you mean by this?


message 31: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Art | 2540 comments Mod
Honestly I would be hard pressed to provide the exact quotes. Since there's little in the ways of plot progression it is hard to locate any particular passage out of continuous stream of witty (or those attempting to be) chapters.

What I didn't particularly care for was how he would set up any particular chapter, starting off with some silly situation and then try and put a spin on it in the end of the chapter as if it was the apex of philosophical thought.

An example, any particular chapter can apparently be filled with mediocre puns and attempts at humour...:

When I found little Newt, painting a blasted landscape a quarter of a mile from the cave, he asked me if I would drive him into Bolivar to forage for paints. He couldn't drive himself. He couldn't reach the pedals.
  So off we went, and, on the way, I asked him if he had any sex urge left. I mourned that I had none--no dreams in that line, nothing.
  "I used to dream of women twenty, thirty, forty feet tall," he told me. "But now? God, I can't even remember what my Ukrainian midget looked like."

And

Newt revealed that he knew quite a bit about Mongolian idiots. He had once attended a special school for grotesque children, and several of his schoolmates had been Mongoloids. "The best writer in our class was a Mongoloid named Myrna--I mean penmanship, not what she actually wrote down.


...as long as it has some more "heavy" subject matter that justifies the foolishness, in this case talking about both terrifying and factual (up to a point) events:
I recalled a thing I had read about the aboriginal Tasmanians, habitually naked persons who, when encountered by white men in the seventeenth century, were strangers to agriculture, animal husbandry, architecture of any sort, and possibly even fire. They were so contemptible in the eyes of white men, by reason of their ignorance, that they were hunted for sport by the first settlers, who were convicts from England. And the aborigines found life so unattractive that they gave up reproducing. - Aborigines in Australia and surrounding territories were habitually killed at whim, until 1840s they were actually treated as any other animal, one could shoot an aborigine as any other animal, without even a slap on the wrist.

My point is that one has to endure a lot of childish nonsense in order to derive any meaningful message from the passages that actually have such.

Another example:

When I first saw the term "Dynamic Tension" in Philip Castle's book, I laughed what I imagined to be a superior laugh. The term was a favorite of Bokonon's, according to young Castle's book, and I supposed that I knew something that Bokonon didn't know: that the term was one vu!garized by Charles Atlas, a mail-order muscle-builder.
  As I learned when I read on, briefly, Bokonon knew exactly who Charles Atlas was. Bokonon was, in fact, an alumnus of his muscle-building school.
  It was the belief of Charles Atlas that muscles could be built without bar bells or spring exercisers, could be built by simply pitting one set of muscles against another.
  It was the belief of Bokonon that good societies could be built only by pitting good against evil, and by keeping the tension between the two high at all times.
- the message is good, but does he really need these pop references to set it up?

In any case, I don't remember the book well enough to provide better quotes to make my point, so this will have to do. Sorry!


message 32: by Phil (last edited Apr 29, 2019 08:24AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Phil (turbulent_architect) I just finished the book. I am pretty impressed with it, in the end. Still no Slaughterhouse-Five, not even by a long shot. But one of the better books I've read in the last couple of years.

Regarding the preceding, I agree that some of the minor punchlines embedded within the chapters are kind of groaners. But I also say "minor punchline" because I very much doubt that Vonnegut expected to get a big laugh out of "women twenty, thirty, forty feet tall." I'm not even sure we're meant to take Newt to mean this literally so much as offhand hyperbole about how much he used to think about women and how little he's capable of it now.

I'm also not sure what you mean when you say that "the message is good." Are you endorsing Bokonon's view that human beings need heroic narratives of conflict to keep them distracted from the real problems? Or do you just mean that this is an interesting (very 1984) commentary on government? In any case, I would certainly argue that the pop references here are what make the whole situation funny—the idea that Bokonon based some of the key insights of his philosophy on principles of weightlifting that have no obvious relevance to governance. I think that the half-critique, half-admiration of the hippie movement implied in Bokonism was hilarious. But really, I thought the entire (Marxist, obviously) satire of religion throughout the book was very well done.


Antti Värtö (andekn) | 714 comments I very much agree, Philippe-Antoine.

I also kept thinking about Discordianism every time the book described Bokononism. Interestingly enough, Principia Discordia was published the same year as Cat's Cradle. These kind of thoughts about religions and parodies of them were obviously part of the cultural milieu, zeitgeist, or something like that.


message 34: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Apr 29, 2019 04:45PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Art | 2540 comments Mod
@Philippe-Antoine

While I agree with many things you said in your post, some of the things appear to need further clarification. Let me get through them one at a time.

Philippe-Antoine wrote:"But one of the better books I've read in the last couple of years."

I agree it is not a terrible read, I'm just having hard time categorizing it as sci-fi.

Philippe-Antoine wrote:" I very much doubt that Vonnegut expected to get a big laugh out of "women twenty, thirty, forty feet tall."

There reason I included that passage was not because of the reference to "forty feet tall women", but because even in the end of the book he kept bringing up the "midget", probably not for the sake of getting "ha-ha" laughs out of the reader, but just out of the devotion to keeping the silliness going. I doubt that Vonnegut is ignorant enough to not know how people suffering condition of dwarfism manage driving (scroll up to see the beginning of the quote). The second quote I gave, the one that has text in bold, the pun on writing capabilities of a "Mongoloid" is more on point, in terms of conveying what it was I was trying to say.

Philippe-Antoine wrote:"I'm also not sure what you mean when you say that "the message is good."

Never said such a thing (so I'm not sure what to make of the spin you were going for). What I said was:"My point is that one has to endure a lot of childish nonsense in order to derive any meaningful message from the passages that actually have such.
And as you aptly put it, there were a lot of "groaners". I just went a step further calling it (however unjustly) childish nonsense.

Philippe-Antoine wrote:"But really, I thought the entire (Marxist, obviously) satire of religion throughout the book was very well done.

Totally agree.

The bottom line is I enjoyed reading the book, I get the satire and the message Vonnegut tried conveying, I just didn't care much for it. Maybe if I read it outside the context of Hugos and Nebulas I could enjoy it more, but as I said in a discussion for some other book, the pseudo philosophy is not my thing unless it merged deeply with the narrative. Were I interested in it I'd rather be reading non-fic on the subject. The one-liners in the end of every chapter did not work for me, apparently it did for many others, so I am more than glad to hear opinions of others such as yourself and Antti on the subject.


message 35: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 626 comments Antti wrote: "... Principia Discordia was published the same year as Cat's Cradle. These kind of thoughts about religions and parodies of them were obviously part of the cultural milieu, zeitgeist, or something like that."

Probably true. But similar things have come up in SF stories many times. Currently I'm almost finished with Erewhon Revisited from 1901 which includes a made-up religion called Sunchildism as a way of talking about religion in general. It is unfortunately pretty dull, though. Vonnegut's story is far more engaging.

I don't think I would much enjoy Principia Discordia. I read and did not enjoy The Illuminatus! Trilogy. I was too afraid many people would take it too seriously.


message 36: by Phil (last edited May 17, 2019 04:19PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Phil (turbulent_architect) Art wrote: "@Philippe-Antoine

While I agree with many things you said in your post, some of the things appear to need further clarification. Let me get through them one at a time.


Apologies, I haven't checked this thread in two weeks. It's probably pointless to respond now, but anyway.

Regarding the point about the message being good. You say in your last post: "Never said such a thing (so I'm not sure what to make of the spin you were going for)." But in fact, you did say precisely this. I quote:

the message is good, but does he really need these pop references to set it up?

My point in saying that I didn't know what you meant was simply that I didn't really know what you thought the "message" of the passage you cited was supposed to be. But really, I tend to doubt whether talking about a "message" is really appropriate or meaningful for any work of fiction save for "philosophical" novels (e.g. Ayn Rand, J-P Sartre) and blatant propaganda.

Regarding the many references to dwarfism around Newt, I agree that they are very jarring if you take them as attempts at comedy. While reading, I assumed that Newt's smallness was supposed to play some symbolic role that I simply wasn't catching onto, though I do admit I was a little intellectually lazy in not looking it up. So basically, I just bracketed that stuff until such a time as I might have time to write my review for it and research it a bit more.

I'm really not sure that I understand what puts you off about the "pseudo-philosophy"—I mean, there is a religious group, the Bokonists, who represent a particular school of philosophical thought. But I certainly don't think that this is supposed to be a philosophical treatise in disguise (like the "philosophical novels" mentioned above). Is this what you meant?


message 37: by Dan (last edited May 17, 2019 08:24PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Dan Most novels have a message, or theme, an author wants to convey, not just philosophical novels like Ayn Rand's. Sometimes the message doesn't become clear to an author until well into writing a novel, but by the end of writing the author has found the message. Otherwise, it's very difficult to figure out how a novel should end. There would be no goalposts.

As much as I failed to appreciate Cat's Cradle, I believe Vonnegut had a message or themes in it he wanted to convey. If having trouble picking it out, I say think about how it ended. What was resolved with the ending? Therein will lie the theme.

It's been almost forty years since I read the novel so I could be wrong, but wasn't the message (view spoiler)


message 38: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Art | 2540 comments Mod
Dan wrote: "Most novels have a message, or theme, an author wants to convey, not just philosophical novels like Ayn Rand's. Sometimes the message doesn't become clear to an author until well into a novel, but ..."

I absolutely agree with what Dan is saying here. I refuse to attribute a deeper meaning or praise Vonnegut's penmanship after reading this novel. One may twist words assigning hidden meaning to almost any work all day long, trying to sqeeze every ounce of purpose and reason, interpreting connotations of every single passage. The bottom line for me that I believe Dan is spot on when it comes to understanding the overall theme of the book and there is a chance that Vonnegut himself intended it to be taken this way, a light read underlining futility and silliness of it all.

Dan wrote: "I was put off by the triteness of the observation.."

A sentiment I can stand 100% behind.


message 39: by Phil (last edited May 18, 2019 08:09AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Phil (turbulent_architect) Dan wrote: "Most novels have a message, or theme, an author wants to convey, not just philosophical novels like Ayn Rand's. Sometimes the message doesn't become clear to an author until well into writing a nov..."

There is a pretty big difference between a theme and a message. I would certainly not deny that any serious work of literature, least of all this one, addressed themes (!). Cat's Cradle is rife with them: the banality of evil, the lack of human control over scientific and technological progress, the social and psychological function of religion, and the illusions of utopian thinking are some that come to mind without consulting it anew.

As far as I know, a "message" (a takeaway, a moral) generally designates an articulable thesis the author is trying to bring the reader to accept. "[W]e as individuals try to construct meanings for our lives when the truth is that there is no meaning" would be just such a message. It is a philosophical thesis that one can (and that many do) defend and contest in essays and treatises. If Vonnegut were trying to convey this message, then it seems to me that he did a very bad job, because I got no inkling of it. Though I certainly would agree that this kind of existential angst provides an unstated background to his novel.

In any case, that you found the point "too obvious to bother making" is a testament to how much Western culture changed between, say, 1945 and 1968 ("triumphalist despair" and all that). The kind of despair at the meaninglessness of the human predicament that underlies so much of Vonnegut's writing was a relatively new phenomenon at the time of publication, and appeared debased and neurotic to many people.

So I guess disliking the book because its message is too obvious seems a strange reaction to me on two counts: first, because I really don't think Vonnegut had a simple "message" that we might extract as we might the thesis of a philosophical treatise, and that trying to find one severely devalues the work, and second, because even if this were the message, it would not have been obvious at all to many people at the time, and criticizing a work for defending a view that seems obvious to us now would involve dismissing roughly the entire literary canon—assuming, once again, that we were looking for it to teach us "messages."

But now we're getting away from discussion of Cat's Cradle and pretty far into the territory of literary theory and appreciation. My comment about the idea of a "message" about was just an aside after I clarified my much earlier question about the "message" of the passage about the bodybuilding. In fact, I don't think anyone has answered any of the questions I was asking about Art's reaction to the book yet.


message 40: by Dan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Dan Theme, message, to-may-to, to-mah-to. I agree with you that many people draw a distinction between theme and message by saying that a book can have many themes but only one message. "Pish," I reply. Why is this so? Is the distinction perhaps defined this way by people who like to do so in order to make the claim that there is a distinction. In other words, just because literary theorists want to say there is a distinction between theme and message fails to convince me there really is one. Prove it, I say, by something other than the appeal to authority you made.

I agree with you that my 40-year-old memory of the book's main theme or message was flawed. It is not, "we as individuals try to construct meanings for our lives when the truth is that there is no meaning." I looked it up in Sparknotes! https://www.sparknotes.com/lit/catscr... the analysis section, and read this: "Recorded history is replete with examples of violent religious, ethnic, and international conflict. None of this changed with the twentieth century. Nevertheless, many people in the twentieth century took the egotistical position that humanity had reached a new pinnacle of maturity. Science became a revered institution of truth and knowledge, and few people seriously questioned whether the truth and knowledge of modern science were necessarily beneficial. Cat's Cradle ridicules this hubris by emphasizing that sheer human stupidity is not only alive and well in the twentieth century but armed to the teeth."

I can agree that at the time Vonnegut's book was published his point about scientific advancement being considered an inherent benefit because it was an advancement may not have been as commonplace as it is today. I'm not sure though. Others may have also already made that point.

I apologize for my errant characterization of the book's main point. The lack of center thing is Derrida's main message, not Vonnegut's, though I doubt Vonnegut would disagree.


message 41: by Phil (last edited May 18, 2019 09:03AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Phil (turbulent_architect) Dan wrote: "Theme, message, to-may-to, to-mah-to. I agree with you that many people draw a distinction between theme and message by saying that a book can have many themes but only one message. "Pish," I reply..."

Actually, no literary theorist that I know of characterized the distinction between 'message' and 'theme' numerically the way you do here, though admittedly, my knowledge of literary theory is spotty at best. Generally speaking, though, a theme is usually an idea a book explores, whereas a message is a thesis it wishes for you to accept. Vonnegut explores all the things I pointed to above and more. But it is not clear to me that there is/are any simple message(s) that we are supposed to take away from this exploration. As presented, this distinction is purely conceptual, and therefore requires no further proof.

Anyway, the book is certainly a product of its time. The feeling that human beings were losing their grip on science was already felt in the early 20th century at least, but went into full throttle after the bombing of Hiroshima and into the Cold War period. I certainly don't think that Vonnegut was the only, or even the first, person to explore this theme, but I certainly found his particular take on it interesting, and even very clever at points. But he does the whole postwar despair thing much better in Slaughterhouse-Five.


message 42: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 626 comments "sheer human stupidity is not only alive and well in the twentieth century but armed to the teeth."

You can say that again!


message 43: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 626 comments From a review in the SF Chronicle: "[Chuck] Palahniuk is the likeliest inheritor of Vonnegut's place in American writing."

Nope. Nope. Nope. Vonnegut didn't write nearly as much about diarrhea and bestiality as Chuck does.


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