Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
This summer I had solicited book recommedations from my friends, and was pleasantly surprised to have Cat’s Cradle recommended to me. I had previously only read Slaugherhouse Five by Vonnegut, and while I really liked it, I questioned whether or not I would really like to read other books in his oddly structured style. Well after reading Cat’s Cradle I can only say that those worries were unfounded. (Note to those who are intimidated by seeing a new chapter every other page or so: just ignore the chapter names and keep reading.) Other than what I just mentioned, I had no clue what I was getting into, and the name didn’t give me any hints.
So let’s sit down, take our shoes off and put our feet together and talk about this. No really, I’m being serious, at least for the purpose of this review. Sitting facing each other with our feet touching, according to the Bokononists of San Lorenzo island, is the most intimate way to talk to someone and have a complete understanding with them. Cat’s Cradle starts out with our narrator, Jonah, working on a book about Felix Hoenikker, a fictional scientist, and equally the fictional “father of the atomic bomb”. However as the narrator’s mind changes about whether he’s going to actually write this book or not , the story itself changes.
After contacting the youngest son of Dr. Hoenikker and discovering that the elder son is presumed dead, Jonah reads an article about San Lorenzo island. From this article he discovers that the older Hoenikker son is in fact alive and a member of the island nation’s military, and falls madly in love from the picture of the President of San Lorenzo’s daughter. Coinicidentally or not, our narrator is sent to the island to research and write an article about a hospital on San Lorenzo. Here though it stops being a book about an author writing about the man he fathered the atomic bomb and turns into a story about the end of the world.
Cat’s Cradle is a fast read and an enjoyable read; you just have to get over the chapter business. As I mentioned earlier in the review, there really is no need to read the chapter headings, as they will be repeated in the chapter, and the break up doesn’t actually break up the story. Vonnegut has a dry sense of humor that had me chuckling (not quite a laugh, but a little more than a humorous snort) out loud as I read. This is a good one for the Vonnegut fan, as it’s a relatively light read but in keeping with his style, or good for someone new to Vonnegut. Cat’s Cradle is a good example of his humor and style and a good door to the rest of his work. If you appreciate a go with the flow kind of science fiction and a dry wit, then you’ll love this book. I know I did.
“Pay no attention when I laugh .. I’m a notorious pervert in that respect. ”