Thursday, August 27, 2009

Prong's 13th Review - Cat's Cradle

Hey there marauders. Hope your week is going well so far. Ours sure is! We are getting really excited over the completed website we are about to have up, as well as BBAW which is only a few weeks away! In a few days we will have a short post up about all of the nominations we received (thanks in advance!!) and as well as a special giveaway in honor of the BBAW week. I should have another review up hopefully by this weekend of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar so make sure to keep your eyes peeled for that, as well as some literary links.
Also make sure to put your vote in over on our side poll, as it will greatly affect the amount of items we have for sale once the site is up and running!! --> As always, we WANT to hear YOUR ideas about any literary t-shirts or mugs that you would like to see! Ok enough of me babbaling, here is what I am sure you really came for:

“She said his mind was turned to the biggest music there was, the music of the stars.”
Cat's Cradle
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
So this will be my second review of a Vonnegut work that I have done for this site. After reading Mother Night, I promised myself there would be at least 5 more reviews in between ‘Vonneguts’, and trust me it was hard to not just dash that whole notion and devote this site entirely to this mans work. Thankfully, my 5 reviews have since passed and I am able to sit down and focus again on the author who with every turning page, seems to be recalculating my entire equation on life. Prepare yourselves because you are about to hear some serious gushing over this novel and author. So with out further ado, here is my extra-anticipated review of Kurt Vonnegut’s, Cat’s Cradle.

Cat’s Cradle was written in 1963 by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., and like many of his other works, it explores the satirical implications of war, religion, science, love and the end of the world. As a WWII survivor, it is not a far stretch to read Vonnegut’s own personal biased into apocalyptic nature of the work, which ultimately shows the absurdity of all that man has made out of life. Each character and event could be considered a separate string in Vonnegut’s own personal cat’s cradle, and in the end all of the strings work together to reveal themselves as the illusion of something bigger; a false picture that one must look carefully to see.
"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..." "And?" "No damn cat, and no damn cradle."
Vonnegut writes from the perspective of John, a writer who is trying to collect information for a book about what important people were doing the day the atomic bomb was dropped. John is a narrator who talks in retrospect, looking back over his recent past; giving insight to the events that seemed random but fell together into a purposeful whole. His research, or possibly destiny, crosses his path with the children of a deceased Dr. Hoenikker; the (fictional) creator of the atom-bomb. As the strings of the story begin to loop and twist, John dives further into the life of this ingenious, but morally empty man, and begins to unravel some frightening truths about what the Doctor was working on just before his death.

What follows after that is a race through the land-mine minds of all that surround John, as he frantically tries to make sense of the world he has been thrown into. The writing is quick and explosive and leaves the readers smacking their own hand for laughing at some of the truly tragic black humor that occurs. Make sure to take a look at the chapter titles in the table of contents because those alone are enough to send you into fits of laughter. The chapters are short (at times less than a page) which makes the entire work fly by in a matter of hours. For anyone looking for a short, honest, creative read; this work is for you.
"She hated people who thought too much. At that moment, she struck me as an appropriate representative for almost all mankind. The Fat woman’s expression implied that she would go crazy on the spot if anybody did any more thinking."
While the characters and events are enough to carry this book alone, what truly pushes this work into the top 5 satirical works I have ever read is the made up religion of Bokononism. Have you ever been drawn to a person or place with out a real knowledge of why? How about believing a simple lie to make yourself feel safe or strong? Vonnegut tackles all of these ideas in his fictional religion, as he acknowledges the absurdity of life and religion as well as giving us ways to deal with it. Vonnegut, in all of his imagination and irony, explains the fantastical religion where the followers recite calypsos instead of hymns and press the soles of their feet together, which in turn presses their souls closer together. Bokononism focuses less on the worship of a higher power, and more on the reverence of man and all that we get the pleasure of experiencing in life.

I should note that the vocabulary of the new religion can be a bit tricky at times so it might be best to find a list of definitions and keep them with you. (However it is worth it in the long run, and I can pretty soundly say I am now a proud follower of Bokononism.)
He resolved to let the adventure run its full course, resolved to see just how far a man might go, emerging naked from salt water. It was a rebirth for him
Cat’s Cradle is pure genius; with the ever-growing fear of doomsday and loss of logic, Vonnegut gives us his best satirical writing when he raises questions about the consequences of religion and science. With the invention of Ice-9, a substance that turns water instantly to ice, the cloud of destruction hangs over the entire novel, pushing the reader away from science, back to the religion that Vonnegut has already deemed pointless. With this tug-of-war between logic and faith, your brain will reel (in a good way) from the constant bombardment of expectation vs. reality. Where else can you find mad scientists, midgets, prostitutes, WMDs, and cults pulled together in such a cohesive and compelling commentary on life, than in the works of Kurt Vonnegut?

While the laughs are many and the witticisms great, at the core of this work Vonnegut raises many questions about the dangers of science, life and love; and what can happen when all three things are taken for granted
. When we don’t stop question life or logic, we are left with nothing more than the inevitability of total destruction!!! But not to worry, total destruction comes with one two many laughs as the satire and social commentary rolls on, long after the world, as we know it is gone. Good Books Inc Approved xs10!!

(quotes from Cat's Cradle)


  1. For some reason I've never read this book... Weird, right? Even I can see it's something I should have read. Everyone whose taste in books I respect has read it and loved it.

    Well, maybe next time.

    Good review!!!

  2. Yea I am kind of appaled at the lack of Vonnegut I have read. I really am trying to pace myself though, otherwise I would read all of them I could find and nothing else for some time. Hope you read it so we can discuss!!

    Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. I felt the same way about Murakami. Read most of his stuff in two weeks! Fantastic. I advise taking lots of public transport, and just sitting and reading while you go - Kafka on the Shore and Dance Dance Dance are my favourites.

  4. That is exactly how I read 'On the Road'. Took a 22 hour grey hound to New York and busted the whole thing out. Then saw the original pages laid out in the New York Public Library. Changed my entire experience with the novel. Wouldn't have wanted to read it any other way.

    I will be sure to check out those stories and follow your advice. I really believe that literature is best read in a somewhat similar surrounding to the characters (as long as it isn't the moon baha). Just gets you so much more into the imagery and the mindset.

  5. Thanks for the review. I have been looking for another book of his to read, and now I know which one it will be! Thanks again!

  6. Oh no thank you for the comment! Glad you enjoyed it enough to want to read this next. Make sure to come back and let us know what you thought!

  7. You might want to change "granite" in the last paragraph to "granted"!!! But your writing is sensational!

  8. hahaha thank you o much for catching that! We are supposed to have an editor *cough, CRAIG, cough* but sometimes I get antsy and don't run my reviews past him first. Thank you for the correction/compliment! I am horrible at proofreading le sigh.

  9. I am so ashamed, I haven't read any Kurt Vonnegut yet! He's made it onto my list of books to get, but of course, now i can't find any in the stores I haunt! Kind of like i'm looking for Henry V to see and suddenly it's not airing anywhere either. Life! I do like how you write that Vonnegut uses alot of black humour, I can definitely relate to that. Good review, Prong!

  10. Now I'm going to have to read Vonnegut more ... perfect name for an A to Z challenge I must say. How very convenient!!!

  11. @ Susan. No need to be ashamed...I was turned off him for a long time. It was only recently I discovered my undying love for him. Hmm if you have any half price books in your area you can often find some paper backs for very cheap. I hate when I finally have a book I am dead set on finding, and it seems to have vanished off the face of the earth. That happens with me and American Psycho once. Glad you enjoyed the review! Stop by again!

    @ Jenners. Your right that would fit in perfectly!! I'd start with Mother Night though. It is a nice ease into his sense of humor/way of writing.


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