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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 19 March 2008
Vonnegut's incisive writing never ceases to amaze and entertain me.

Here he is as cynical, bitter and critical as always but one can't help enjoying his funny divergent perspective of reality.

Read this one and you will find yourself questioning a lot of what is happening in the society around you as you follow the life and worries of a Vietnam veteran. Excellent book.
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Vonnegut has written many works that are justifiably praised, often laced with biting satire and normally an excellent insight into people and their surrounding society.
The various praises of this book, liberally sprinkled on the back cover and the opening few pages, call this 'Hilarious', 'Sharp-toothed satire - absurd humor' 'Comic', '...a scream'. From these comments, I was all set for another Slaughterhouse Five, but when I finished this I wondered if these book reviewers had read the same book I did. I didn't even break a chuckle, finding instead a large amount of cynicism, retreads of ecological and Vietnam phrases that became trite long before this was published, a main character who entirely monopolizes the book (there is almost no conversation and darn little action), and a story line that very badly extrapolated the society trends of 1990.
Certainly, Vonnegut's sharp tongue is present, ripping up academia (and their captive students) as we explore the benefits of prisons run by outsourced Japanese guards, the equivalency of loving and killing, television talk-shows, the mindless drive to wealth normally thought of as the American dream, and, yes, the whole Vietnam experience with his typical precision. But instead of these items being couched in a manner that would bring a smile and a chuckle (before the sharp stab of truth hits), the barbs are almost baldly presented, or driven by obvious situations and comparisons. And his patented time-slip style of narration is still present, but it no longer seems fresh. Perhaps what I missed the most in this work was the completely zany worlds that his characters in previous novels occupied inside their heads. This work seemed far too mundane and everyday.
Perhaps I read this on a bad hair day, but for my money this is very minor Vonnegut.
--- Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
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on 1 April 2013
Funny, sad, poignant and thought provoking all wrapped up in one wonderful book. Gives a unique perspective on politics, family, duty and what we (i.e people) mean to each other, whilst looking at what we have done, and continue to do to each other. My favourite Vonnegut book so far, highly recommended.
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on 1 May 2002
Hocus Pocus mines a familiar theme for a Vonnegut novel, the absurdity of war, Vietnam in this case, throwing in other prosaic tools of his, such as repetition, a first person narrative, a cynical, wry & often detached but wholly trustworthy narrator, and yet the first 20 pages or so are deleterious to the novel, weighing it down with sandbags of extraneous info (cigar making in the Wild West & other idiosyncratic knick knacks), but not slow enough to drag the novel down because it soon achieves a graceful afterburn & like most Vonnegut masterpieces, achieves a Camus like existential peace, no stones weeping, prisoners rioting, a White Noise cadence towards the end where the protagonist describes his meeting with his lost & estranged son, enough to impact you with a solar plexus hammer and leave reeling with another thundering moral statement.
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on 14 April 2003
Hocus Pocus is a story told by Proffessor Hartke of Tarkington College Scipio. A colledge for affluent but stupid people. Across the river is a prison run by japanese. I won't tell you anymore, except to say that the plot is well crafted and ingenius. Nothing is predictable and Vonnegut's usual sprawling, meandering rhetoric runs smoothly throughout. This book is, without a doubt, brilliant. Some of his best characters lie within the pages of this book. It would folly not to read this gem.
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on 27 October 2010
This Vonnegut book I had somehow missed when it was published in 2003.
It is vintage Vonnegut and it makes one feel the loss caused by his death last year.
There is already some of the bitterness towards the USA under Bush which culminates in his last book : "A man without a country".
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on 24 June 2015
Another wonderful book from Mr Vonnegut, if your a fan, its for you. If your not, give it a go, as its a very well written book.
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on 21 September 2015
Vonnegut cannot be anything but superb given his knowledge and stand on environmental issued and his unique imagination.
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on 12 October 2013
An excellent example of Kurt Vonnegut writing. It's sad to think there are no new books coming form such a good writer.
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on 3 May 2014
Rather a tedious book with the story line continuously anticipated; not as well written as I had come to expect.
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