book of the month

This month's Book Club Bloggers Book of the Month was Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I read it once before about six years ago and decided now was a good chance to re-visit it. Even though I'm the one that made this month's selection, I've found that it's the hardest review to write.

*Spoiler Alert*

I remember loving this book the first time around, but I found that I only liked it this time. Maybe because I already knew what was going to happen and it didn't hold the same magic for me as it did before. I remember being in awe of the idea of ice-nine and the destruction it would cause if it really existed - destruction spreading like blood through veins, from oceans to rivers to creeks to rain to life.

However, I will always love the way Vonnegut wrote this book - very fragmentary and to the point with seemingly random things that happen to the narrator. It's a fun, fast-paced and easy read full of wit and dark humor. I love when an author can speak volumes in only a few words. Cat's Cradle may seem a bit chopped and effortless, but underneath is a rather profound story.

The meaning of Cat's Cradle isn't hard to figure out: "See the cat? See the cradle?" It's all about how things are never really what they seem.

One other thing that really stuck out for me this time, which makes me ashamed that it went completely over my head before, was the irony of the story: it starts with the narrator writing a book about the end of the world, though he's actually referring to the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. The atomic bomb: what weapon was or could ever be worse than that? And yet, the story unfolds and we realize it isn't the worst by far, because ice-nine exists. Very ironic...

So this is a short, simple review for a short, simple book. I won't bother continuing to stumble along trying to explain the insightfulness of Cat's Cradle, though I will leave you with one quote that really stuck with me:

"So I said good-bye to government,
And I gave my reason:
That a really good religion
Is a form of treason."


Krystal said...

I shan't read it because I want to read the book...:)
I'm reading 'Anthropology of an American girl" and it's so good so far!

Molly said...

I'm so relieved to read that I'm not the only one who had a tough time "reviewing" this book!! I feel like it's really dense, despite it's length. It's really deep, despite it's randomness. But what I love most about it is that I'm still wondering if I really "get it."
Thanks for the suggestion, girly. Reading this has been (and continues to be) an experience!!

A Foreign Land

Laura said...

Yeah, it's a tough one to review.
I will say that I think the book made more sense to me this time, but I'm not sure which time I liked it better.

I like how succinctly you put the meaning of the book.

Charlotte said...

Thinking about the title, I also think it relates to what Hoenikker was doing when the atomic bomb dropped: playing an imaginary game. Because (as Vonnegut would put it) everything can be thought of as an imaginary game.

I was not offended at all by the Bokononism. Honestly, knowing what I know about Vonnegut, I shouldn't have been as surprised as I was when it came in. Cat's Cradle has really made me interested in some of his other works; I've never read something as frustrating and intelligent at the same time.

katie said...

i like the little bokonon poem you included. i kind of agree with it, too -- at least that, though it would be awesome to have the army or navy pay my med school tuition for me, i could never do it because i could never place my allegiance to a nation, any nation, over my allegiance to my Lord. =)

Anonymous said...

It was a great choice, thanks! I never heard of Vonnegut before and I have some feeling this is because I am from Germany and Vonnegut doesn't seem to be so spread over here.

I love finding new and intelligent books that keep me thinking and this was definitely a very surprising one, thanks!

Comewhinewithme said...

Thank you so much for your lovely comment! I don’t mind at all that you disagree with me. I will however excuse myself by saying that my English is not as good as yours… I find it hard to put my thoughts into words sometimes. Nevertheless, I did not see what you explain here which makes me quite angry with myself. I usually love stories like these, where you have to look for the meaning. It was rather obvious too… Well, well my English gets better with every review I read from this bookclub!

Goggled Hero said...

I like the bookmark