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Galapagos: A Novel (Delta Fiction) Paperback – January 12, 1999
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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“The best Vonnegut novel yet!”—John Irving
“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
Kurt Vonnegut’s black humor, satiric voice, and incomparable imagination first captured America’s attention in The Sirens of Titan in 1959 and established him as “a true artist” (The New York Times) with Cat’s Cradle in 1963. He was, as Graham Greene declared, “one of the best living American writers.” Mr. Vonnegut passed away in April 2007.
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I recently read a short story, "Peace in Amber", by Hugh Howey which led me back to this book. I read the short story three times trying to understand it when I remembered Billy Pilgrim from "Slaughter House Five" so I quickly purchased it and re-read it. 40 years after reading this book in high school, I finally GET it and fully understand Peace in Amber (highly recommend it).
Kurt Vonnegut tells this tale in the third person as an onlooker following Billy Pilgrim who is a Private during WWII. This book is an emotional look behind trauma, fear, unbearable sadness, strength and resolve...just to name a few. It gives the reader (or in my case listener) a rare peek behind the emotional damage and coping skill a human being needs to develop just to survive these horribly traumatic experiences...dissociation, denial, fight or flight, hysteria...all the ingredients for long term mental illness, PTSD, severe depression, projection, etc.
This book is a heartbreaking, somewhat semi-autobiographical tale of Kurt Vonnegut's own experiences in WWII woven into the beautiful and horrifically sad journey of Billy Pilgrim that will weigh heavy on your heart long after the final sentence...
This should be your introduction to Vonnegut. I've found that true Vonnegut fans don't often choose Slaughterhouse-Five as their favorite, but, instead choose one of Vonnegut's other wonders (Breakfast of Champions, Cat's Cradle, Sirens of Titan, etc.). I think that most would agree that this is a good jumping off point, just as, in music, people often start with Greatest hits albums and then work from there.
Only Vonnegut could make such a strange premise believable and emotional. The book shifts time and place from paragraph to paragraph without warning. It is about aliens and WWII. It all works so perfectly, however and is so profound to those who read carefully. Billy Pilgrim is one of the great characters in all of literature.
The narrator is writing a book; this book is about Billy Pilgrim, who was at the WWII massacre at Dresden -- as was the narrator (and as was Kurt Vonnegut himself). Billy Pilgrim has the curious ability to mentally travel to different times in his life. He was also abducted by aliens at one point. "So it goes," as the narrator would say.
Billy's unique perspective on life renders him somewhat numb and casual when it comes to all the tragedies and horrors he witnessed in the war, and it wasn't until a later chapter it really sank in for me how sad his life was -- he knows the exact moment of each major moment in his life, and he just quietly flows through the sea of time, back-and-forth, back-and-forth, but ultimately powerless to effect any real change on the events of the world. Oh, and he might just be plain nuts.
I genuinely enjoyed this book and Vonnegut's sly, quiet way of eviscerating any romantic notion about WWII. My only real reticence about it is the inherent, post-modern jumbled narrative leaves behind a novel of disconnected vignettes; some are potent pieces of satire, while others feel like some of the more drawn out bits of a Twilight Zone episode. Not all of his methods of transmitting the moral quite landed.
That said, it delivers its message dutifully, and when absorbed as a whole (as the Tralfamadorians would encourage), it's marvelous how the pieces come together. This book's influence on both the anti-war novel and post-modern storytelling is clear, and I reckon it will continue to be held as a gold standard for a long, long time (for whatever 'time' means).