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Customer Review

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watching the master make his rounds, July 13, 2002
This review is from: Timequake (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 Yeah, it's not the innovation of Slaughterhouse-Five and the cutting cynicism of the earlier novels has been replaced by a sort of contented cynicism, as if his bitterness has settled on him like a comfortable old skin.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. More importantly it made me laugh outloud in more than a few spots, made me think in others and in some places was actually genuinely touching, something that's been missing in some of his latter day novels. Overall it's a fine extension of his work and while not his best, it's a great way to get acquainted or reacquainted with an author who's done some of the finest fiction of the last fifty years. If you're just getting to know Vonnegut, there's plenty more where this came from, and if you're coming from a long time back, you'll find plenty here that's familiar, but just as rewarding.
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