Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut

Posted on April 1, 2016 by Andrew

The father of the atom bomb has left his own children a gift. Ice-nine is a dangerous substance. It’s capable of turning water to ice at room temperature. His three dysfunctional children split it. How will they handle the responsibility?

Cat’s Cradle is a Vonnegut novel. This means the novel is not about what it says on the cover. Vonnegut takes you on a stroll with words. Casually “spoiling” the novel at multiple points. Surprisingly the story is fairly linear. Less surprisingly the main character is an author writing a story about himself writing a novel.

The novel is also the author’s conversion story. It shows a philosophy of cheerfulness in the face of oblivion. The philosophy is made into a religion. Bokononism was outlawed by it’s own creators. Following the religion is punishable by death. This was designed to give people more zest in their lives.

“All of the true things that I am about to tell you are shameless lies.”

Primarily of course, this novel is a comedy. It is best described as oblivious juxtaposition. At one point Angela is complaining about how little money her father made for making the atom bomb. Simultaneously her brother’s artwork is going to make a villager rich. It’s waterlogged crap.

If you were looking for a Kurt Vonnegut novel about human nature I’d recommend “God Bless You, Mr Rosewater”. For a sci-fi novel I’d recommend starting with “The Sirens of Titan”. That said you will still be laughing and engaging in an uncomfortable amount of self-reflection.

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