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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.
Vonnegut, followed closely by Mark Twain, was the greatest satirist this country ever produced. He took on all the topics of the day with a wit that was as sharp as a rapier's edge. He had the ability to make you laugh and squirm at the same time. His passing a few years ago left a void in American literature. ("So it goes," to quote another of his books.)
Cat's Cradle is one of a handful of Vonnegut's books that rank among the best of 20th century literature. Re-reading it after a couple of decades is to immerse oneself again into a familar stream. I'm glad I had the chance to read Cat's Cradle years ago. To read it for the first time now, in the post-9/11, post Cold War era, must seem a bit daunting. Without the background of living through a time when nuclear missiles were poised to reign down annihilation on mankind, some of Vonnegut's bitter humor is lost. Put it remains a powerful voice.
In a mere 300 pages and 100+ very short chapters, Vonnegut manages to construct a novel that pulls together the threads of a uniquely dysfunctional family, an outlawed religion, a banana republic dictatorship on a small Carribean island, a secretly created substance that can destroy the world, and ... well, so much more that you wonder how he will ever pull it off without unraveling all the various threads. Somehow he does it and, in the process, turns those threads into a tapestry of human folly. That's the true genius of Vonnegut. That his unique voice and vision will still be around a century from now seems inevitable!