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Timequake [Kindle Edition]

Kurt Vonnegut
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (241 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Timequake (1997) exists in two conjoined versions ("Timequake One"/"Timequake Two") and in meta-fictional mode is a novel about a novel, composed in short, arbitrary chapters and using its large cast of characters and disoriented chronology to mimic the "timequake" which is its subject. Some cosmic upheaval has hurled the entire population a decade back where, in full consciousness (but helplessly entrapped) everyone’s pitiable and embarrassing mistakes are helplessly enacted again.

By this stage of his life--he was 72 the year the novel was published--Vonnegut was still wearing his luminescent bells and Harlequin's cape, but these had become dusty and the cape no longer fitted. Vonnegut’s exasperation and sense of futility could no longer be concealed or shaped, and this novel is a laboratory of technique (deliberately) gone wrong, a study of breakdown.

Vonnegut had never shown much hope in his work for human destiny or occupation; the naive optimism of Eliot Rosewater in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater had in the damaged veteran Billy Pilgrim of Slaughterhouse-Five become a naive fantasy of escape to a sexual heaven. In the nihilism of Timequake, the only escape is re-enactment, but re-enactment has lost hope and force.

This is no Groundhog Day in which Vonnegut traps his various refugees (many escaped from his earlier works) but a hell of lost possibility. The temporal timequake of the title is the actual spiritual fracture of the 20th century, and in his 73rd year Vonnegut envisions no hope, not even the hollow diversions of Slapstick. Vonnegut’s imaginative journey, closely tracked by his work, is one of the most intriguing for any American writer of the twentieth century.

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

Think of Timequake, Kurt Vonnegut's 19th and last novel (or so he says), as a victory lap. It's a confident final trot 'round the track by one of the greats of postwar American literature. After 40 years of practice, Vonnegut's got his schtick down cold, and it's a pleasure--if a slightly tame one--to watch him go through his paces one more time.

Timequake's a mongrel; it is half novel, half memoir, the project of a decade's worth of writer's block, a book "that didn't want to be written." The premise is standard-issue Vonnegut: "...a timequake, a sudden glitch in the space-time continuum, made everybody and everything do exactly what they'd done during past decades, for good or ill, a second time..." Simultaneously, the author's favorite tricks are on display--frequent visits with the shopworn science fiction writer Kilgore Trout, a Hitchcockian appearance by the author at the book's end, and frequent authorial opining on love, war, and society.

From Library Journal

Delayed over a year, Vonnegut's latest finally arrives, with alter ego Kilgore Trout facing millennial catastrophe.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1224 KB
  • Print Length: 276 pages
  • Publisher: RosettaBooks (August 22, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005IQKF8S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,122 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watching the master make his rounds July 13, 2002
Format:Paperback
Vonnegut's novels were never tightly plotted or dizzlingly complex, and ever since The Sirens of Titans there's been less and less plot. But what we've gotten is more and more Vonnegut, which has turned out to be a good thing. His latest and (he says) his last novel turns out to be a hodgepodge of random musings, Vonnegut family history lessons, irrelevant asides and once in a while something that touches on a story. And somehow it works. The premise is that Vonnegut was trying to write a novel about everyone in the world being thrown back ten years and then being forced to relive those ten years. After it's over and time runs normally again, everyone is so used to not having free will that they don't know what to do. But that idea didn't take off and so we have this. Toeing the line between fact and fiction (among the best is the meeting between Vonnegut and longtime alter ego Kilgore Trout), this novel is more about Vonnegut than any other novel previously. He talks about life in general, speaks bluntly and warmly of his family, both living and dead, all in his easily read style, which makes pages fly past as you read but somehow they still manage to stick in your head. Yeah, it's not the innovation of Slaughterhouse-Five and the cutting cynicism of the earlier novels has been replaced by a sort of contented cynicism, as if his bitterness has settled on him like a comfortable old skin. There's nothing new here that you couldn't find in his other novels (all of which are highly recommended), even the structure is reminiscent of Breakfast of Champions, but the presentation is what counts here and everything comes across so effortlessly that it's a joy just to watch him put the novel together, even when chapters race past that are really only barely connected strings of random thoughts. Read more ›
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
If you are looking for a plot, rising action or deep characters, don't read this. For those of us who have been Vonnegut fans, it reads like a Bible of his ideas. The best parts of a good number of his novels are the prologues. This book is a 195 page prologue, with about 10 pages of fiction. I had the opportunity to read Timequake back in July, (about three months before its offical release date) and I was thrilled when I reached the final page. Many of his devoted readers find his humanistic ideas to be the best stuff he writes. This book holds more of that than any other he has written. His ideas on his own age and demise as a writer add a ton to this beautiful farewell to the philosophy of Kurt Vonnegut. If you are unfamilar with him, and looking for a great book to start on, go back to Slaughterhouse-Five, Sirens of Titan or Cat's Cradle. If you are familiar with his stuff, this book simply serves as a great companion piece to his other books.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars But, what about the timequake? August 30, 2002
Format:Paperback
This is the third Vonnegut novel that I've read so far. I loved and hated this book. The 3 stars that I gave this book is somewhat unfair to Vonnegut because the book wasn't necessarily poor, it's just not what I had expected.
What I loved: the idea and creativity of a "timequake" and the scraps here and there of the timequake.
What I didn't expect: these little extra memoirs and the last third of the novel. You find yourself reading "a completely different book" consisting of Vonnegut's own personal reflections; you can just about call it an autobiography.
In conclusion, this is probably not the book for you if you're looking for something that flows and has well, a plot. Otherwise, if you're simply in for chunks of Vonnegut's classic satire, look no further!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Great Ting-a-Ling? May 25, 2005
Format:Paperback
Having read the bulk of Vonnegut's work (so many great books, so much clever, boisterous, mocking, incidental drivel...)Timequake felt like a cheat at first. More parts memoir than actual novel, Timequake must be differentiated between Timequake One (the dead version that balked birth) and Timequake Two (the revised performance). Intending this as his last novel (or so he says), Vonnegut gets a little crazier than usual and a lot nostalgic. The threading of his personal life experiences into the fabric of the novel make it hard at first to discern fact from fiction, and then you realize...It's Kurt f*cking Vonnegut! Who cares? Fact or fiction, it's all entertaining. Vonnegut is as wry and sardonic as ever. He talks a lot of sh*t here.... So, is KV done telling stories? Is Timequake to be the last real shot of his insightful wisdom of the world at hand? Is it worthy of a last novel by a modern-day genius? Tough questions. Let me answer them all with one word. Maybe.

Is this is awesome as Breakfast Of Champions or Cat's Cradle or Slaughterhouse-Five? Hard to tell. All of Vonnegut's work, at least for me, sort of melds together into a single mishapen tapestry. Vonnegut is Vonnegut. His writing is addictive as nicotine or heroin. I gotta have it.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cranky, but still a genius December 20, 1999
Format:Paperback
Reading TIMEQUAKE makes two things eminently clear.
One, Kurt Vonnegut has become a cranky old man. The book is full of diatribes about how newfangled gadgets like TVs and computers have ruined the world. He even occasionally lets slip a wistful cliche like "the lost art of conversation." In contrast to his SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE character Billy Pilgrim, Vonnegut himself has become stuck in time, viewing today's world from the distant vantage of the 1930s and 40s, and declaring the modern era postliterate, and therefore fallen. He even lends authority to his viewpoint by finally acknowledging his place in the pantheon of the century's greatest writers, a place which he richly deserves.
And that brings me to the second insight that TIMEQUAKE makes readily apparent: Vonnegut's literary genius is undimmed. The man can put words together like nobody else on earth -- his passages and paragraphs are so mind-altering that they ought to be considered controlled substances. The timequake at the center of this book is a wonderfullly pliable symbol, allowing Vonnegut fresh takes on all his familiar themes: war, suffering, the arts, the human capacity for evil, and the mysterious dynamic of free will versus predetermination. What's more, the book is unfailingly, hysterically funny, resonating with that particular Vonnegutian laugh, a laugh that carries an abyss of blackness within its mirth, but is nonetheless somehow comforting.
Those who complain that the book is rambling or lacks direction are missing the boat entirely. As Vonnegut himself explains midway through the book (perhaps in anticipation of this very criticism), his writing style is that of a "basher.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Vonnegut proves post modernism can be accessible.
Published 1 month ago by Matthew Geglia
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Daughter's favorite author and she said it was one of Kurts good books.
Published 2 months ago by Kath
3.0 out of 5 stars Where's the Beef, ting a ling?
The promotional information about this book and other reviews will tell you enough as to what this book is supposedly about. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Tasawuf
5.0 out of 5 stars I can say based on my recollection this is the best of them so far
I am a sucker for Vonnegut. Makes me laugh, makes me think, makes me really read the last page a few times occasionally. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Keith
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional
Vonnegut is my favorite author and this is my personal favorite of his books.
Published 4 months ago by Doc
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Awesome product!
Published 4 months ago by Bobby H
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever
I love reading Kurt Vonnegut! He writes things in such a way that make you say, "Yeah, I always thought that, but never knew how to put it into words." A clever read.
Published 5 months ago by B
3.0 out of 5 stars Sadly disappointing
Fragments of a novel that wasn't working are recycled, and padded out with personal anecdotes and commentary. Read more
Published 5 months ago by mathew
2.0 out of 5 stars There is no plot.
By far his worst book that I've read. This makes number 7 and I 100% enjoyed the other 6. This book is not a novel. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Neal Diamond
3.0 out of 5 stars Good things about Timequake
I have just read a raft of books purporting to be novels, and this is one. Well, I exaggerate: I've read two books, this one and Ragnarok by A. S. Byatt. Read more
Published 6 months ago by W. J. TAYLOR
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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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