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Cat's Cradle [Kindle Edition]

Kurt Vonnegut
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (787 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $2.99
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Book Description

Cat’s Cradle (1963) is Vonnegut's most ambitious novel, which put into the language terms like "wampeter", "kerass" and "granfalloon" as well as a structured religion, Boskonism and was submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements for a Master's Degree in anthropology, and in its sprawling compass and almost uncontrolled (and uncontrollable) invention, may be Vonnegut's best novel.

Written contemporaneously with the Cuban missile crisis and countenancing a version of a world in the grasp of magnified human stupidity, the novel is centered on Felix Hoenikker, a chemical scientist reminiscent of Robert Oppenheimer… except that Oppenheimer was destroyed by his conscience and Hoenikker, delighting in the disastrous chemicals he has invented, has no conscience at all. Hoenikker's "Ice 9" has the potential to convert all liquid to inert ice and thus destroy human existence; he is exiled to a remote island where Boskonism has enlisted all of its inhabitants and where religion and technology collaborate, with the help of a large cast of characters, to destroy civilization.

Vonnegut's compassion and despair are expressed here through his grotesque elaboration of character and situation and also through his created religion which like Flannery O'Connor's "Church Without Christ" (in Wise Blood) acts to serve its adherents by removing them from individual responsibility. Vonnegut had always been taken seriously by science fiction readers and critics (a reception which indeed made him uncomfortable) but it was with Cat’s Cradle that he began to be found and appreciated by a more general audience. His own ambivalence toward science, science fiction, religion and religious comfort comes through in every scene of this novel.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) is one of the most beloved American writers of the twentieth century. Vonnegut's audience increased steadily since his first five pieces in the 1950s and grew from there. His 1968 novel Slaughterhouse-Five has become a canonic war novel with Joseph Heller's Catch-22 to form the truest and darkest of what came from World War II.

Vonnegut began his career as a science fiction writer, and his early novels--Player Piano and The Sirens of Titan--were categorized as such even as they appealed to an audience far beyond the reach of the category. In the 1960s, Vonnegut became closely associated with the Baby Boomer generation, a writer on that side, so to speak.

Now that Vonnegut's work has been studied as a large body of work, it has been more deeply understood and unified. There is a consistency to his satirical insight, humor and anger which makes his work so synergistic. It seems clear that the more of Vonnegut's work you read, the more it resonates and the more you wish to read. Scholars believe that Vonnegut's reputation (like Mark Twain's) will grow steadily through the decades as his work continues to increase in relevance and new connections are formed, new insights made.

ABOUT THE SERIES

Author Kurt Vonnegut is considered by most to be one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. His books Slaughterhouse-Five (named after Vonnegut's World War II POW experience) and Cat's Cradle are considered among his top works. RosettaBooks offers here a complete range of Vonnegut's work, including his first novel (Player Piano, 1952) for readers familiar with Vonnegut's work as well as newcomers.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Cat's Cradle, one of Vonnegut's most entertaining novels, is filled with scientists and G-men and even ordinary folks caught up in the game. These assorted characters chase each other around in search of the world's most important and dangerous substance, a new form of ice that freezes at room temperature. At one time, this novel could probably be found on the bookshelf of every college kid in America; it's still a fabulous read and a great place to start if you're young enough to have missed the first Vonnegut craze.

From Publishers Weekly

Vonnegut's 1963 satirical science fiction novel still manages to pack a powerfully subversive punch. The new audio release offers listeners an excellent opportunity to connect—or reconnect—with a classic text whose thematic elements—nuclear terror, the complications of science, American imperialism, global capitalism and the role of religion in public life—are remarkably relevant to our 21st-century landscape. The story line centers on a young writer's quest to research the history of the atomic bomb, which leads to a bizarre political soap opera and apocalyptic showdown on the shores of a seedy banana republic in the Caribbean. Tony Roberts brings tremendous energy to his reading, projecting a sardonic tone perfectly suited to Vonnegut. His portrayals of the principal male figures sometimes take the form of interchangeable over-the-top carnival barkers, but given the essence of the material, such a unnuanced approach can be understood and appreciated. The audiobook includes a 2005 interview in which Vonnegut—who died April 11, 2007—discusses how his life shaped his literary craft. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 954 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Publisher: RosettaBooks (July 1, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003XRELGQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #972 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
343 of 358 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cat's Cradle is terrific. (As it was meant to be) May 17, 1998
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Cat's Cradle is by far the best Vonnegut novel that I have yet read. Blending his patented wry humor with acute social insight presented in an absurd fantasy world, Vonnegut has written an exceptional novel of love, lies, and the self destruction of mankind. The story centers around the narrator, Jonah, who is called by name once in the entire book. We are told in the beginning that he is writing a book on the events of the day the first atomic bomb was dropped on Japan. His research leads him to a correspondence with Newt Hoenikker, the midget son of Doctor Felix Hoenikker, father of the atomic bomb. After meeting with Newt, destiny leads our protagonist to the impoverished island republic of San Lorenzo, where among other adventures, he finds religion, falls in love, and becomes president. All of this by itself would make for a very entertaining book, but it is not in the story line that Vonnegut's genius lies. Cat's Cradle is rife with painfully accurate insights into the institutions that our society holds so dear, such as, religion, politics, and science. Vonnegut invents for the inhabitants of San Lorenzo a brand new religion based completely and admittedly on "foma", or lies. This wouldn't be so shocking, except for the fact that this "bokonism" seems to make perfect sense. Other Vonnegut ironies pervade the book and are too elaborate to go into. Kurt Vonnegut is my favorite author of all time. Cat's Cradle is one of his funniest, most absurd, and frightening novels. This book truly causes one to stop and think about the things that one holds as unquestionably true. All of the incredible people, places, things, and ideas in Cat's Cradle are intricately woven into a perfect tapestry that sums up and spells out many of mankind's self-created problems in 191 pages.
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79 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing July 21, 2002
Format:Paperback
I don't like sci-fi, but I loved this. This is the first Vonnegut I've read (I took a chance after reading so much praise for it) and it definitely won't be the last. It's one of those rare and wonderful books in the same vein as Animal Farm: simple prose, easy to read, yet with ironic tinges and thought-provoking depths; a novel that can be read and enjoyed at many different levels.
Cat's Cradle is narrated through Jonah, an author who aims to write a book on the single day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. On investigating the atomic bomb's main founding father (and his three children) he is told about a *non-existant* substance with the capacity to provide all water on earth with a different molecular structure, turning it into Ice 9 (ie, a substance that could bring about the end of the world) A different assignment takes Jonah to the small island of San Lorenzo where he encounters Felix Hoenikker's three children and a society where the religion of choice (a religion that everyone knows is based on lies, yet still has utter faith in) is punishable by death, for the simple fact that it adds excitement to the dull lives of the inhabitants. I won't go any further...
The thing that delighted me most about this book was the way in which it was written. A lot of great and influential books are ones that (on the whole) you enjoy, but take a while to get into, and at times you feel like giving up on: you know the book in question is good literature, but the style and plot make finishing it seem a chore.
Similarly, a lot of fast-paced books hold little impact, don't challenge the mind and are forgotten the instant you read them.
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Funny, Philosophical, Superb Romp-to-the-end. November 21, 2000
By Brendan
Format:Paperback
Vonnegut writes the book with the question that "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" plays with on a different level, all the while throwing in philosophies, wit, and things to ponder on and about during the COLD WAR.
The narrator (first-person incompetent) is somewhat vacant, and being so, maneuvers the story the best way possible.
The narrator is writing a book on the atomic bomb and he travels about meeting strange people who know the creators of the bomb. The characters he meets are funny and strange (You would have to be an oddball to be toying with doomsday.). In his journey he finds the sons and daughter of the inventor of the A-bomb. He finds that these three are an eccentric and foolish trio. The daughter and sons hold with them ice-nine, a weapon that makes the a-bomb seem infantile. Ice-nine was an attempt by their father to make battlefields (mud) solidify, making battle easier on soldiers. It winds up making any moisture it touches solid and blue, but its one flaw is, once put into the atmosphere it regenerates without stopping, freezing everything in its path(including human beings).
Vonnegut throws in the element of Bokononism, a quirky, weird religion spawned by an eccentric, self-made prophet named Bokonon. This angle plays in the mind of the reader as it debases the relevancy of all religions, thus, for example, making Catholicism or Islam just as strange as Bokononism. Bokononists chant about man being born of the "mud."
Symbolically the three children holding ice-nine, a single flake of which will end mankind as we know it, stand for three world superpowers. It shows that anyone, no matter how high in power, can be foolish, and should have no access to such an element of destruction.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars He could make the phone book fun to read by simply paraphrasing it
Kurt Vonnegut was and is a superb wordsmith. He could make the phone book fun to read by simply paraphrasing it. Cat's Cradle is no exception.Have fun with this one...
Published 1 day ago by Mike60
5.0 out of 5 stars Really fun concept. Surprised Bokononism hasn't caught on as a ...
Really fun concept. Surprised Bokononism hasn't caught on as a real religion.
Published 2 days ago by Taco Johnson
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
I expected more
Published 6 days ago by Yasmine Glass
5.0 out of 5 stars I really liked the book
I really liked the book. I read it years ago but I put it down. I reread it with a different outlook. The author style of writing is brash, bold and exhilarating. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Carol C.
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting
An interesting read, but not really my cup of tea.
Published 10 days ago by booklover
5.0 out of 5 stars Icy Fun
After reading the first two pages I thought I would find this book silly but by the fifth page I was hooked. I had no idea where the story was going but was pleasantly surprised.
Published 12 days ago by Bruce
1.0 out of 5 stars Imagine my surprise and disappointment when they said it started on...
This book was bought for someone else. Imagine my surprise and disappointment when they said it started on chapter 6?!? Misprint? Error? What's up with that? Read more
Published 13 days ago by Brenda K
1.0 out of 5 stars What a horrible instruction manual
This had absolutely nothing to do with making sleeping vesicles for my kitties! What a horrible instruction manual!
Published 13 days ago by Henry Olson
5.0 out of 5 stars Vonnegut at his finest -- broadly appealing
I'm a big fan of Kurt Vonnegut, generally. Like most people, I read Slaughterhouse 5 back in high school, but his other books have become my favorites over the years. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Sofia
5.0 out of 5 stars Ice it!
It's great reading the classics late in life, having missed the train when young. This is such a riotous satire and parable. Read more
Published 18 days ago by djbinthecosmos
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More About the Author

Kurt Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis in 1922. He studied at the universities of Chicago and Tennessee and later began to write short stories for magazines. His first novel, Player Piano, was published in 1951 and since then he has written many novels, among them: The Sirens of Titan (1959), Mother Night (1961), Cat's Cradle (1963), God Bless You Mr Rosewater (1964), Welcome to the Monkey House; a collection of short stories (1968), Breakfast of Champions (1973), Slapstick, or Lonesome No More (1976), Jailbird (1979), Deadeye Dick (1982), Galapagos (1985), Bluebeard (1988) and Hocus Pocus (1990). During the Second World War he was held prisoner in Germany and was present at the bombing of Dresden, an experience which provided the setting for his most famous work to date, Slaughterhouse Five (1969). He has also published a volume of autobiography entitled Palm Sunday (1981) and a collection of essays and speeches, Fates Worse Than Death (1991).

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