Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cat's Cradle Book Review

Published in the 60s

What could a book named Cat's Cradle be about?

If you thought this...

Normally you'd be right... But in this case,

 This picture is a little closer...

The first thing you need to know about this book is that it overflows with dark humor and satire.  This will be no surprise if you've ever read Vonnegut before, because almost all of his books are written in a way that makes fun of things in a really dark way.  Another thing that should be no surprise to Vonnegut-Veterans is that the book is full of meaningful themes, but reads really easily.  I think that's one of the coolest things about it.  Anyone (with a dark sense of humor) can pick this book up, read it in a week, and come away saying, "Wow, that was incredible..."

Just to peak your interest, I'll give some examples of the dark humor and satire used in this novel.  First, there is a made up religion called Bokonism which states in the first line of its holy book: "Warning, everything in this book is foma, or lies." Then it talks about how God created the Universe.  Another example focuses around (a fictional country) San Lorenzo being "the most patriotic country to the US".  It declared war on Japan an hour after Pearl Harbor was bombed, and sent 100 men to the cause.  These men were all sunk within 5 minutes of leaving the coast (again, Dark Humor).  Then there's the obvious parody of the (fictional) "Father of the A-Bomb" having absolutely no morals (or social skills), and creating multiple bits of technology that could be devastating to the human race.  I could go on, but for the sake of brevity, I'll stop here.

By this point you probably are wondering what this book is actually about.  

Basically it is about a man named John who is an average-joe writer.  In the beginning of the book he tries to write a book about what people were doing the day the A-Bomb was dropped.  This leads him to seek out the fictional "Father of the A-Bomb" Felix Hoenikker. This quest leads him to talk to a wide variety of people, and on this quest he discovers that Felix also created a substance called Ice-Nine.

As it happens, or as it was supposed to happen (you'll get that reference if you read the book), John is then put on an assignment to write about a multi-millionaire philanthropist living in a fictional country in Central America (San Lorenzo).  This quest leads him to meet a variety of people who all play Vonnegut's pawns for making fun of different kinds of people.  Also in order to not spoil the plot, we'll just say things get very weird from that point on...

The most important thing to know though is that 


It reads easily, is very funny, and uses satire and dark humor to 
deliver a very powerful and thematic message

(Read this book)


PS, now reading:

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