Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Vonnegut was one of those writers who took me from my sci-fi adolescence and into a more general pursuit of 'literary fiction.' My copy of Cat's Cradle is part of a three-volume set I got from the Book of the Month Club. When I was a teen I used to scam book and music clubs using a P.O. box and my home address to sign myself up again and again as a 'friend' and reaping the benefits on both ends: free and very cheap books. After dozens of aliases and cancelations I had quite a library. Of course, these editions are crummy and crumble after a couple readings, but WTF? I just read it for the third time and my wife has read it three times too.
I read Vonnegut's entire catalog in about two weeks at age 16 before shelving my John Varleys and Robert Heinleins forever and tackling Fyodor Dostoevsky. Dostoevsky--with his tragicomic heroes and holy fools--would have enjoyed Cat's Cradle.
I figured it was time to read Vonnegut again because I'd forgotten what a wampeter was. Kurt's like a really comfy sweater I can pull out when things are bleak and the world is particularly senseless. Not because he's an optimist--not at all. But he's dreadfully funny about dreadfully serious things. Cat's Cradle is delivered with the simplicity of a children's story, and I'll likely re-read it every twenty years or so if the world isn't encased in ice, burned by agitated atoms, or over-run by avian flu in the meantime.