Galapagos: A Novel (Delta Fiction) Reissue Edition, Kindle Edition
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“Beautiful . . . provocative, arresting reading.”—USA Today
“A madcap genealogical adventure . . . Vonnegut is a postmodern Mark Twain.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A satire in the classic tradition . . . a dark vision, a heartfelt warning.”—The Detroit Free Press
“Interesting, engaging, sad and yet very funny . . . Vonnegut is still in top form. If he has no prescription for alleviating the pain of the human condition, at least he is a first-rate diagnostician.”—Susan Isaacs, Newsday
“Dark . . . original and funny.”—People
“A triumph of style, originality and warped yet consistent logic . . . a condensation, an evolution of Vonnegut’s entire career, including all the issues and questions he has pursued relentlessly for four decades.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Wild details, wry humor, outrageous characters . . . Galápagos is a comic lament, a sadly ironic vison.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“A work of high comedy, sadness and imagination.”—The Denver Post
“Wacky wit and irreverent imagination . . . and the full range of technical innovations have made [Vonnegut] America’s preeminent experimental novelist.”—The Minneapolis Star and Tribune
About the Author
- ASIN : B002KJA978
- Publisher : The Dial Press; Reissue edition (August 6, 2009)
- Publication date : August 6, 2009
- Language : English
- File size : 1472 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 338 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #50,025 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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It’s set one million years in the future, but it’s not science fiction
Okay, so this is weird to start with. Vonnegut’s, or rather Leon Trout’s, story begins “one million years ago, back in 1986 A.D.” And it quickly gets weirder.
Some PR flack in New York has conjured up “the Nature Cruise of the Century.” Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and other world-class celebrities are scheduled to join the cruise, which will soon leave Guayaquil for the Galápagos Islands. Of course, the widow Onassis isn’t coming, and none of the other celebrities are, either. In fact, there will be just ten—count them, ten—human beings on board the luxurious Bahía de Darwin. They’re the last surviving people on Earth, as it turns out. These include:
** Captain Adolf von Kleist, the German-Ecuadorian co-owner of the ship, who “would in fact become the ancestor of every human being on the face of the earth today” (with today understood as being one million years in the future)
** Mary Hepburn, a fifty-one-year-old widow from Ilium, New York, whose husband had signed them up for the cruise in the throes of dementia shortly before dying
** Selena MacIntosh, the blind eighteen-year-old daughter of a New York financier who’d intended to buy the Bahía de Darwin and half the rest of Ecuador
** A thirty-five-year-old con man named James Wait, who had cheated seventeen wives out of their life savings and was traveling on the latest of his many assumed names, about to marry his eighteenth
** Six young Kanka-bono girls who had fled their cannibalistic Amazon tribe
Financial collapse and a global pandemic, but it’s not science fiction
Meanwhile, everything’s going to hell elsewhere on Earth. The global economy is collapsing, so the money in most countries has lost all its value. “People had simply changed their opinions of paper wealth, but, for all practical purposes, the planet might as well have been knocked out of orbit by a meteor the size of Luxembourg.” And a virus of some sort is invading men’s sperm, making them all infertile. So, yes, the human race is dying off. All except for that motley collection of ten human beings aboard the Bahía de Darwin.
So, do you know enough now? Do I need to spell things out? This is a very funny, not to say cockamamie, story, and there seems no point in spoiling it by telling you more. Just know that, like all of Vonnegut’s work, Galápagos is a deadly serious reflection on the parlous state of human affairs late in the twentieth century. Not science fiction? Maybe. But who cares?
About the author
Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) wrote fourteen novels from 1952 to 1997, earning a place as one of America’s most widely read authors of the last half of the twentieth century. He is best remembered for his 1969 anti-war novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, which is based on his experiences as a prisoner of war in Dresden, Germany, during the notorious Allied firebombing of that city. He also wrote seven plays, ten books of nonfiction, and a slew of short fiction.
Confession time. Half a century ago—yes, it was 1970—I wrote Kurt Vonnegut the first and only fan letter I’ve ever sent a writer. He was at the height of his fame then and surely received a torrent of mail every day. So I was astonished when a response showed up in my mailbox shortly afterward. Without a stamp. (The letter was typed—with typos—and answered a question I’d asked.) Apparently, Vonnegut was on a speaking tour and was passing through Berkeley for a lecture on campus. Which, holed up with my typewriter and shunning the world, I didn’t know a thing about until too late. (So it goes.) But I couldn’t imagine why he (or someone on his behalf) would have physically inserted a letter in my mailbox. I lived a couple of miles from the campus in those days. Strange, isn’t it? I wish I could find that letter.
I chose to read this one because, as a student of anthropology and biology, I am very fascinated with the Galapagos islands myself. This book was not exactly what I expected, but of all the Vonnegut books I've read, I've retained more of the plot of Galapagos than almost any other Vonnegut book (besides Slaughterhouse-Five). What I love about Vonnegut's books is that he uses absurd, farfetched storytelling to illustrate fallacies of American culture and consumerism. Being very satirical and almost lewd at time, it's also very thoughtful and poignant. For this reason, when I read a Vonnegut novel I keep a pencil in handle to underline or circle certain selections that are especially observant.
Because I feel Slaughterhouse-Five is a stronger book—even if only just—I'm rating Galapagos as four stars despite my desire to give it all five. Perhaps my biggest justification for subtracting a star so as to keep it markedly below Slaughterhouse is due to the occasionally glacial pacing of the book. In short, the book is about a group of strangers who board a cruise ship that's destined to take them on nature cruise to the Galapagos; however, the ship doesn't even depart until almost three-quarters through the book because of all the backstory for each character and their interactions as they meet. In Vonnegut's defense, most interactions have a greater purpose, either contributing to the overall story or as a way to illustrate some satirical point Vonnegut is trying to make about American culture. While I can appreciate the deliberacy of his pacing, it doesn't make Galapagos the most exciting read. However, the latter part of the book somewhat redeems the slow start by containing some of Vonnegut's trademark surreal and bizarre storytelling. I won't give anything away, but that's mostly because you really need to read the book to appreciate the strangeness.
Of all Kurt Vonnegut's novels, Galapagos is definitely one of my favorites, up there with Slaughterhouse-Five, Sirens of Titan, and Breakfast of Champions. As always, it's full of Vonnegut's impeccable humor as well as both his subtle and not-so-subtle wit. Highly recommended.
Top reviews from other countries
All the hallmark characteristics of a first line *KV here; quirks a plenty, linguistic play and the wildly inventive presented as the perfectly plausible. Published in 1982 this cherry was produced during a creative high that Vonnegut enjoyed in the eighties. Within a 5 year time frame he also published 'Deadeye Dick', 'Jailbird' and, my personal favourite, 'Bluebeard'. Pluck any of these from the tree and gorge. Then reflect; while time is to be had.
The quality of the writing is first rate: very readable, humorous, direct and free from waffle. The style reminded me quite a bit of Douglas Adams.
This particular story is a surreal and darkly comic take on the downfall of humanity. Although I enjoyed parts of it - again, I think, mainly due to the quality of the writing - the overall plot tended to lack direction and coherence, being driven by events arriving somewhat randomly 'ex machina'. This may well have been the author's intention, given the book's perspective on life, but it wasn't greatly satisfying for me.
Don't expect a great deal of suspense or excitement.
The book has a few ironic things to say about the human condition, but not really more than a few.
Because the bloke clearly knew how to write, I shall probably try some of his other work, perhaps the famous 'Slaughterhouse Five'.
"Galapagos" starts with the financial crisis of 1986 and ends with human species, devolved, lying down side by side, seals-like, furry and fingerless, with much lesser brains (and a lot less problems) on the volcanic shores of Galapagos exactly a million years later. Are you interested in Vonnegut's answer to Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species? - look no further.
I imagine "Galápagos" has to be re-read to catch up on all the little details and enjoy all dark humour. It is back on my reading list.
Turned out to be a total page turner that I finished in a few days
This is despite the fact that the book is its own spoiler. It's not the destination, it's the journey.
Not entirely sure what conclusions I should draw from it. I suppose it is a rather appropriately post modern text demonstrating that given the right circumstances any future is possible
I found the ending an engaging puzzle, particularly when I considered the well known symptom of the illness the narrator has contracted before his death. Daren't say more, as I'd hate to spoil it for anyone.
Vonnegut is a quirky, interesting and funny writer but he is not for everyone. If you like his prose you will probably thoroughly enjoy this - it's a short, easy and appealing read. If a good old fashioned story is your thing, you'd do better to pick something else.