©1963 Kurt Vonnegut, Jr; (P)2007 HarperCollins Publishers
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
To say that I worship at the alter of Kurt Vonnegut would be more mawkish than overstated. He is and will probably always remain one of my all-time, favorite authors. When picking up a book, one can only hope that the author can write; the surprise comes when an author’s contributions transcend what is on the printed page. Such is usually the case with KV. Not only can he write his butt off, he has the absolutely, incredible talent to hold up this mirror for all of us to see the travesty of so much we hold sacred in this American Experience and then laugh at the same time that we cry at our reflection.
About writing itself, KV once said in an interview, “Well, I've worried some about, you know, why write books ... why are we teaching people to write books when presidents and senators do not read them, and generals do not read them. And it's been the university experience that taught me that there is a very good reason, that you catch people before they become generals and presidents and so forth and you poison their minds with ... humanity, and however you want to poison their minds, it's presumably to encourage them to make a better world.” Bottom line for me, that’s what KV’s writings are always about: Humanity.
In 1971 the University of Chicago awarded KV his Master's degree in anthropology for Cat's Cradle. While at first blush that might seem a bit over the top, after reading this treatise on such subjects as science and technology, religion and morality, ethics and law, it becomes quite clear about his critique, KV did his homework. And, the originality of his work is unmistakeable. There are folks out there today such as Al Franken and Jon Stewart for whom KV had to have been an influence. KV was one of the originators of the movement for modern, self-reflection at least in contemporary America. That being said, this is not an unapproachable work reserved for the academic elite. This book is for the entertainment and edification of anyone and everyone: the unread generals, unwashed presidents and your any, off-the-street, Joe Blow, the Plummer. I cannot imagine anyone with a scintilla of humanity not loving this book. You're not into social critique you say. Great, read it just for the fun of it. It is funnier than _ _ _ _, well, it's just plain fun.
The narration could have possibly been done differently and still worked. It's hard to believe that it could have been done better.
Kurt's Vonnegut "Cat's Cradle" is one of the most strange books I've ever read.
The plot starts quite innocently with the narrator presenting himself as a writer planning to write a book about the American nuclear bomb inventor. This goal has perfect sense and is aimed at showing how "normal" was the life of those who, by their activity, created means to kill masses of people. In his pursuit, the narrator makes friends within the family and co-workers of the bomb inventor. They may hid the great secret of late father of the bomb - the mysterious Ice-9.
At this stage of the narration a fictional religion of Bokononism is introduced, with is fundamental concept of karass - the group of people, who are working together to fulfil God's will.
The plots goes crazy when the narrator arrives to a fictional island of San Lorenzo. Here, the events spiral quite fast. Shortly after arrival he is offered to become the president of the nation of the island - and he accepts that post, being in love with the women who was destined to be the wife of the president. Just at the moment of his inauguration as the president, the small plane crashed at the rock on which presidential palace stood and that crash ignited the sequence of events ending in the ultimate cataclysm with almost all the population of the island gone and with all water transformed at room temperature into hard ice after the spillage of Ice-9 in the accident.
Through this crazy plot, Vonnegut tells the most ironic refutation of our society, military pursuit, political system, "forbidden fruit" man-made religions and cults. The most important of those is the mockery of man-made religions. Bokononism, invented for the purpose of the novel, reveals so close resamblance to some cults and sectarian groups that we can only marvel about Vonnegut's wit and Machiavellian wisdom...
This novel is typical Vonnegut and requires that you think ... but not too much throughout. If you over think it, you won't understand it ... but if you are expecting to be spoon fed a a story with all the plot lines hilighted for simplicity, then this is certainly not for you.
The narrator gives you the feeling of sitting down around a fire and listening to your grandfather tell a tale of days long past. I actually quite enjoyed it.
I was really excited to find Cat's Cradle, as I am a huge Vonnegut fan. But this recording is old and somewhat garbled, the narrator is dry, and does a poor job defining the characters so it is hard to follow. He really destroys the excitement and mystery of the story, which is too bad. Are there any better recordings out there for this book?
A futuristic mind-opening analogy of the pathetic state of humanity in search of meaning through religion. A masterful work of literature from a man who has actually lived through the some of the worst things one can endure during a human experience. Highly recommend.
I enjoyed the book and was glad I listened on audio. The interview with Vonnegut at the end was a delightful bonus. I've not read the print version so can't really make a comparison.
I work full time in Financial Services, teach part time, listen to music (a lot) and love Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction.
I sure would, its a great book and a great performance by Tony Roberts.
I mean this book is hysterical, touching, thought provoking and well written. I would say Hazel encapsulated all elements of this for me, but every character is well done.
The Hoenicker's, who really have elements of the story line in their background and characterizations.I cannot say this enough, Tony Roberts does a great job. He is an actor here, not a narrator. His nuances bring out Vonnegut's writing in a terrific way. I think it is the narration I have heard on Audible.
Laugh is not the word. Hysterical, might be more accurate. This is funny and sad at the same time, which makes it so compelling.
Vonnegut is an important writer in American literature. This is one of his premier works and Audible does it justice. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Fun, irreverent, intellectual
Bokonon, a central character, a cult figure that is seen directly only in the closing pages of the book, but is present via the descriptions of the other characters from the first chapter. "I would have been a Bokononist then, if there had been anyone to teach me the bittersweet lies of Bokonon."
Excellent narration without trying too hard at the various voices.
Love Vonnegut but the narration is brutally bad -had to stop listening and was so bummed.
Loved Ethan Hawke doing Slaughterhouse, but run from this one and read the book.
He was awful.
Vonnegut is a great author. Not always easy and not always this enjoyable, but definitely great.
This work is less dislinear (my word - get your own if you dont like it) than other Vonegut works than I have read. That makes it a bit easier to live with and maybe a bit more manstream but none the less challenging.
As an exposition of the depths of inadvertant stupidity that man is capable of it is maybe a bit predictable. But the banality of purpose that the characters portray makes the final outcome seem all the more plausible and therefore maybe just a bit more scary. It might just be an important book as well as a very enjoyable one.
The narration is good just because it is pretty much transparent. What characterisation there is is helpful rather than distracting. Overall a first class audiobook.
"Excellent introduction to the short american novel"
I don't have much exposure to American literature but this was the start of a love affair with the short novel. Vonnegut has a great way of getting to the point, making subtle points about human nature and he seems to be obsessed by fate. It seriously expanded my choice of books.
If you like your stories rooted in reality, then this one might not be for you but otherwise there's humanity in this story and a plot that holds you attention. A great book.
"As many layers as an onion!"
I'm sure that there's still more layers to this novel that passed me by, but I enjoyed its wicked humour and sharp observations of human behaviour. The storyline is wonderfully outlandish and I would be interested to know if the science of Ice Nine is even feasible? However, it is the calypsos of the Bokononist faith that I think will be the most memorable for me. The astute comments on religion, power, learning and life are so true.
"Laughter and Despair"
Vonnegut makes me laugh. The world he creates is ridiculous, but equally it has all the foibles and cruelty of the real world. For fun, and to add to the despair there is the religion of Bokononism. A religion that is hypocritical, false and cruel. A religion that offers some sense of acceptance of life, but only if we accept that it's falseness is the only solution to the madness that men perpetrate. The Cat's Cradle is the metaphor for the world of the book; playful, complex; a trick.The reading of the audiobook is not too cynical and not too flat; just right.
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