Thursday, October 1, 2009

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

How does one sum up a Vonnegut novel? It's nearly impossible to do it justice without spoiling the whole story. Cat's Cradle is either story about humanity's tendency to destroy itself or our compulsion to create things which we can use to destroy ourselves. Simple theme, but how to delve into the plot without giving away all the little quirks in the story that make Vonnegut such an amazing writer?

First, we meet Jonah, or is it John - not entirely sure what his name really is. Anyway, first we meet a reporter who's writing a book about one of the scientists who worked on the atomic bomb. Gathering research for his book takes Jonah on a fact-finding mission that concludes on an island where a new religion, Bokononism, has formed and where the world ends.

Jonah's journey serves as the impetus for the reader to meet Vonnegut's colorful cast of characters. There's the three children of our atomic scientist: an army general, a clarinet player, and a little person who likes to paint. A doctor, a dictator, a beautiful woman who had a thing for feet, a hotel owner, an ambassador and his wife, a die-hard Hoosier, a bicycle manufacturer, and a think-tank director all play a part in this whirlwind story as well. Oh, and of course there's Bokonon, our religious leader whose philosophies are spread throughout the book as the majority of Vonnegut's characters convert.

A lot of mysteries are solved and lot of people die. In the end, the world is changed forever, but in true Vonnegut style the book is still funny and quirky. Tragedy is no match for Vonnegut who takes sad and series and transforms it into an almost absurd story. You get his point - man constantly works toward destruction - but can't help laughing about it, just a little.
I'm a huge Vonnegut fan and Cat's Cradle is right up there with Sirens of Titan and Galapagos.

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