23 December 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle, 1963

An unintentional ‘wampeter’ of Vonnegut’s own design around which agnostics still flock – even after more than forty years, unsurprisingly perhaps, it remains particularly well-judged as a hefty swipe at religion and shows precisely how humans are all running around chasing after the wrong things. Vonnegut’s invented religion of Bokononism – like Taoism with added determinism – is the real centrepiece, with the deadly Ice-Nine almost a macguffin and the ensemble of characters all playing bit-parts to a much bigger story. It’s three-quarters of the way through that it dawns on you how well put together Bokononism, and Cat’s Cradle itself, really is; a lesser talent would have made this twice as long and only half as entertaining. Highly recommended, not least because it gave the English language some truly useful neologisms.   PY

  Cat’s Cradle was shortlisted for the 1964 Hugo Award for Best Novel.


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