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Cat's Cradle: A Novel Paperback – September 8, 1998
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Some may find this book to be 'meaningless', but I think that is one of themes of the book itself - it does not seek absolution for the characters or an epiphanic understanding or 'truth' for the narrator - all such pretensions are slowly slipped away and the book's cataclysmic end is a natural consequence of the ambition and apathy of different kinds of people.
Our protagonist, Jonah, is writing a book about the end of the world. He ends up interviewing the offspring of the father of the atom bomb, Dr. Felix Hoenikker, an eccentric, seemingly uncaring father who, unbeknownst to most, also makes "Ice Nine" before he dies. Ice Nine causes everything to freeze. It precipates the end of the world.
Before Ice Nine takes over, and freezes the world, Vonnegut takes us on a whirlwind tour of the hearts and minds of a slew of zany characters, from Newt the midget, son of The Father of The Atom Bomb, to a secretary who disdains anyone who "thinks too much," to a philanthropist who turns out to be the complete opposite, to a zillion others (almost too many) in between. We are taken to the island of San Lorenzo, a Carribean banana republic run by a paranoind, eccentric dictator that is totally at the beck and call of the USA, and that is where things really get weird.
This book is divided into 127 very short chapters, which makes it not only easier to read and remember, but also made it easier, I'm sure, for Mr. Vonnegut to write.
One of the main points of this story, if I understand correctly, is that religion, in this case "Bokonism," is pretty much a hodge-podge/hocus-pocus bed of spectacular lies. In the end, the founder of Bokonism, Bokonen, admits himself that it was all a complete joke, not to be taken sersiously (how can anyone take seriously a religion where people make love by rubbing their feet together?), but I won't spoil it by telling you what happens in between.
Mad scientists and their nervous secretaries, midget kung-fu, foot sex, countless hungry, skinny, stupid natives, one beautiful, "healthy" native, fat businessmen here to save the world, steep jungles, waterfalls, underground bomb shelters, earthquakes, tornadoes, fire and brimstone (don't tell Vonnegut I said that), horse faced flute playing enfent terribles, and much, much more. Oh, and I almost forgot. Ice Nine. How could I forget Ice Nine?
This book is a parable for the end of time.
You can pick this book up and read it faster than "Old Man and the Sea." But you won't read it just once... Cradle unfolds with more meaning each time through it.
"Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God."
What's wrong with this work? It is addictive. Every time I read it I think "I could have read something new!" Then I'm glad I didn't.
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