Popsugar Reading Challenge category: A book about a human-made disaster
Book: Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
Vonnegut's books are hard to describe. This one comes closer to having a linear plot than some of his others, but the plot threads go in some very strange directions. It starts with the narrator wanting to interview the children of one of the creators of the atomic bomb, to learn what he was doing when the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. This leads to the discovery that he also created something called "ice 9," which remains frozen at over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The narrator winds up on the (fictional) Caribbean island of San Lorenzo with the inventor's adult children, and by the end of the story, ice 9 has frozen the seas and pretty much destroyed the world.
Both Vonnegut and Joseph Heller (author of Catch-22) served in World War II, the closest thing we've ever had to a "good" war, where at least we knew what we were fighting for. Yet both Vonnegut and Geller write with grim humor about the evil and pointlessness of war, mocking the notions of military honor and glory.
Vonnegut also mocks religion, as the narrator explores the fictional religion of Bokononism, whose creator freely admits it's "all lies." The book can perhaps be summed up by the atomic bomb creator's son, who says that his father spent the day of the bombing playing "cat's cradle" with string. "No cat, and no cradle." It's a book about looking for meaning in the meaningless. How Vonnegut makes all this funny is also hard to describe, but he does.
Leave a Reply.