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Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Cat's Cradle (1963)

by Kurt Vonnegut

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (162)  Italian (1)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  Catalan (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (167)
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I just couldn't get into this book at all. Stopped reading 70 pages in as its not worth my time when there are so many other good books. ( )
  BookReaderHere | Jul 27, 2014 |
A few years ago, the remark that Kurt Vonnegut is over-rated and that he would never have become such a famed author had he been born in Europe, unleashed the ire of the Americans I had lunch with. While they were not particularly known for their reading habits, it seemed they considered my comment as a head-on attack on American culture. Like Helene Hanff, Vonnegut is a second-rate, B-writer whose fame rests mainly on American pride.

Cat's cradle has now appeared in the Penguin Modern Classics series, which may well be taken as a tribute. Vonnegut's writing does not seem to have its equal in other American authors, but his style is vaguely reminiscent to some psychedelic Dutch authors who wrote during the 1960s and 70s, such as Ward Ruyslinck.

Vonnegut seems the be the type, to have possibly written his novels, particularly Cat's cradle, under the influence of some psychedelic stimulant. Given the paranoia in the Land of Freedom to admitting as much, we will supposedly never know, but admission could explain the incoherent structure of the novel.

Cat's cradle seemed quite interesting for about the first 50+ pages, but then disintegrated into a lot of twaddle, of which it was impossible to connect head and tail.

Best soon to be forgotten, or not picked up at all. ( )
  edwinbcn | Jul 14, 2014 |
Cat's Cradle satirically targets our zeal for scientific discoveries that can destroy us. The narrator, John a/k/a Jonah, initially hopes to write a book on what important Americans were doing the day the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Instead, he ends up getting involved with the family of the bomb's (fictional) inventor on the Caribbean island of San Lorenzo, where the family has relocated. The inventor has also created the potentially catastrophic material ice-nine, which upon contact freezes any water into a solid. Each family member possesses a sliver, along with the temptation to sell it.

The other main feature of the book is a satirical religion that makes fun of itself, called Bokononism. It seeks to undermine preconceptions and promote harmony in surprising ways. For example,

"The driver asked me if I would mind another brief detour, this time to a tombstone salesroom across the street from the cemetery.

I wasn't a Bokononist then, so I agreed with some peevishness. As a Bokononist, of course, I would have agreed to go gaily anywhere anyone suggested. As Bokonon says, 'Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.'"

Bokonon even asked the island's governor to "outlaw him and his religion, too, in order to give the religious life of the people more zest, more tang." Everyone on the island is Bokononist and simultaneously denies being a Bokononist, for fear of punishment.

Written at a time of high anxiety about nuclear war, Vonnegut skillfully weaves in sharp-edged humor while indicting our self-destructive tendencies. In some ways the mirror he holds up is similar to Jon Stewart's, only with more flights of imagination. This one is a sardonic gem. ( )
1 vote jnwelch | Jun 20, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 162 (next | show all)
"Cat's Cradle" is an irreverent and often highly entertaining fantasy concerning the playful irresponsibility of nuclear scientists. Like the best of contemporary satire, it is work of a far more engaging and meaningful order than the melodramatic tripe which most critics seem to consider "serious."

» Add other authors (32 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vonnegut, Kurtprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
House, JulianCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kapari, MarjattaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kunkel, BenjaminIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pelham, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Nothing in this book is true.
'Live by the foma* that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy.'
The Books of Bokonon. I:5
*harmless untruths
For Kenneth Littauer

a man of gallantry and taste.
First words
Call me Jonah.
"No wonder kids grow up crazy. A cat's cradle is nothing but a bunch of X's between somebody's hands, and little kids look and look and look at all those X's..."
"No damn cat, and no damn cradle."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 038533348X, Paperback)

Cat's Cradle, one of Vonnegut's most entertaining novels, is filled with scientists and G-men and even ordinary folks caught up in the game. These assorted characters chase each other around in search of the world's most important and dangerous substance, a new form of ice that freezes at room temperature. At one time, this novel could probably be found on the bookshelf of every college kid in America; it's still a fabulous read and a great place to start if you're young enough to have missed the first Vonnegut craze.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:27:01 -0400)

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A satirical science fiction novel.

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Three editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

Three editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141189347, 0141045442, 0241951607

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