Cat's Cradle (Penguin Essentials) Paperback – 7 Apr 2011
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One of the warmest, wisest, funniest voices to be found anywhere in fiction (Daily Telegraph)
The time to read Vonnegut is just when you begin to suspect that the world is not what it appears to be. He is not only entertaining, he is electrocuting. You read him with enormous pleasure because he makes your hair stand on end (New York Times)
Vonnegut has looked the world straight in the eye and never flinched (J. G. Ballard)
One of America's greatest writers gives us his unique perspective on our fears of nuclear annihilation --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
It is an interesting start to the book where the narrator asks us to call him Jonah. Jonah was told by God to go to Nineveh, to warn the people of the impending doom. As a prophet he had a certain authority and responsibility, but he was wilful and disobedient and went in the opposite direction. Is the narrator here to point out our own destructive tendencies and that if we don't reform, it will lead to our own destruction, certainly his book, The End of the World would suggest this. However the book makes it point with a large degree of humour. "When I was a younger man - two wives ago, 250,000 cigarettes ago, 3,000 quartz of booze ago .." The modern vices, common to all humanity, who make mistakes. He talks about humanity being divided into teams, a karas, who do God's will without ever knowing what they are doing. So much for the illusion of free will. "If you find your life tangled up with someone else's life for no very logical reason, that person may be a member of your karas." The most farcical example of this is Mrs Crosby, formerly Hoosier. She proceeds to tell the narrator that Hoosiers are in charge of everything, as if it is a prestigious name, akin to Kennedy or Rockefeller.
The narrators search is for Felix Hoenikker and all of the people he meets along the way tell him something about the man and his creation, Ice-9.Read more ›
The message may be too pessimistic to make the novel completely enjoyable but it makes for an interesting and very funny read until someone presses the wrong the button.
I first read Cat's Cradle as a 16 year old in 1973. I loved it as much as anything I had read up to that point. I re-read it very recently and tried as hard as I could to avoid the rosy glow of nostalgia colouring my impressions.
I hope I succeeded; in any case I found myself shaking my head every few seconds in wonder at the humour, the ideas and the sheer intelligence on display. I think I probably got more out of the book almost 40 years on than I did at the age of 16, but the fact that a novel, essentially of ideas rather than storyline, left such an indelible impression on my adolescent mind is pretty remarkable. I think Vonnegut is held in even greater esteem today than during his lifetime and the predictions of him going the way of Mark Twain in terms of reputation don't seem too fanciful.
So, it was a great re-connection for me and a re-discovery of something dear; then the real fun began when I read the reviews here on Amazon.
Fighting the temptation to slip into `defensive fanboy' mode I still find the content of the negative reviews published here fascinating and provocative. There seem to be a few consistent criticisms;
* The novel and it's themes are `dated' and no longer relevant
* The characters are unbelievable or `unappealing'
* The plot is weak
* There is no central point to the novel
So, is the novel `dated'? Well, it was published in 1973, so by some standards it's bound to be dated - it is nearly 50 years old and our world today is different technologically, politically and environmentally. Given all of that I'm personally astonished at how well it has aged. Yes, we are no longer preoccupied by the Cold War, but with events in Iran how safe do we really feel from the threat of nuclear war?Read more ›
Like a previous reviewer, I find criticisms that the book is dated or far-fetched to be odd. The book most certainly is not dated: the Cold War may be over, but man has not stopped his quest for the most efficient technological route to total annihilation. To me it's got a fairly universal theme (one similar to Dr Strangelove, which the book very much resembles in its savagely ironic tone): that technological destruction is ultimately wielded by individuals, and that individuals are far too often weak and idiotic to be entrusted with such power.
If you only read one Vonnegut book, make it this one. And then, if you have any sense, become a Bokononist too.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
pooled ink Reviews:
Kurt Vonnegut’s intriguing novel CAT'S CRADLE is a poignant satire on modern man and the madness of them all. Read more
Hard going - made a start several months ago - yet to complete. Bit of an acquired taste.Published 10 days ago by Mr G E Pattison
First Vonnnegut I've read. Why did no one tell me about him before? Funny clever succinct prose. Good dialogue, imagery 'my soul seeming foul as smoke from burning cat fur' being... Read morePublished 6 months ago by jd
I've recently started reading this genre and of 1984, Brave New World and The Handmaid's Tale this is my favourite so far. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Sarah
A masterpiece by any measure. Absolutely hilarious but profound and as relevant now as it was in the 70s, probably more so.Published 6 months ago by JPC