22 November 2009

Book Review: Cat's Cradle

Title: Cat's Cradle
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Published: 2006/1963  Pages: 287
Genre: Science Fiction - although I'm not quite comfortable with that

Buy  |  Borrow  |  Accept  |  Avoid

Plot Synopsis
The narrator, "Jonah", sets out to research the everyday lives of people on the day the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, but finds his life woven into a complex and absurd narrative.

My Thoughts
The two Vonnegut books I've read have both struck me as primarily anti-war texts and manifestos to man's stupidity.  I approve wholeheartedly.  I feel man's stupidity is most nicely bound up in the concept of granfalloon, a Bokononist concept where people believe they have a connection with others that does not in fact actually exist.  Religion, Nationality, Race, Clubs and Organizations, these are all false connections.  We choose to identify with particular people based on associations that are inherently meaningless, and sometimes we protect this absurd relationship in violent and stupid ways.  The philosophy of Bokononism is sprinkled liberally throughout the text and is, for me, the force driving the story; without it, the story loses its essence.

Vonnegut's writing is so much like speech, his chapters so short, and his themes so intriguing that reading his books is an almost frantic activity for me.  I move through them quickly but don't lose comprehension.  I enjoy the quick movement, the short fast-paced sentence and chapter structure.

There is so much more to say about this book, but as always I believe that discovering the story on your own is the best bet.

Memorable Scene:  Angela bundling up her two brothers and her father before they went out into the cold is a scene that affected me.  Her father is useless as a parent and when her mother dies, Angela, only a teenager, has to take on responsibility for the family, giving up her life for them.  This image of a young girl playing the role of mother in one of its most cliched forms - protection and caring before leaving the safety of the home - was especially poignant for me.

Memorable QuotesAmericans are forever searching for love in forms it never takes, in places it can never be.

What hope can there be for mankind...when there are such men...to give such playthings...to such short-sighted children as almost all men and women are? 

Other Reviews
If I've missed yours, let me know!

Padfoot and Prongs; A Striped Armchair;


ChallengesUnlock Worlds, 100+ Reading Challenge, Sci-Fi Challenge,


  1. I have yet to read a vonnegut book, but looks good!

  2. Your posts are always particularly thoughtful and interesting. I read some Vonnegut in high school -- this may have been one of them.

  3. If you're interested in a really great comparison book, you might check out "This is the Way the World Ends" by James Morrow. He does similar social satire/"science fiction."

  4. Jenny - I put off Vonnegut for years but caved and read Slaughterhouse Five. Now I've read two of his books, and I have to say I'm a fan.

    Stephanie - Thanks! That is really nice to hear.

    Rhapsody - I will definitely check it out.

  5. I have this one on my shelves but haven't opened it yet. You have be very curious about it now. Thanks :)

  6. I have yet to read ANY Vonnegut (cane me, it's OK), but this one is high on my must-read list. I started it a couple years ago, but for whatever reason a finicky mood kicked in and I didn't get far. I will go back to it.

  7. Stacy - You should definitely read it.

    Andi - I understand. I put it off for sooooo long.

  8. Oh my gosh I wish I knew when these posts went up!!! I need to check back more obviously!!! I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed this book! Mother Night and Cat's are my 2 all time favorite Vonneguts. My favorite scene was when they were reading 'the last rights' of Bokonoinism... so beautiful. I wish we had read this for book club as well seeing as it is def. worth a good discussion! Great review!!!


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