Monday, April 4, 2011

Cat's Cradle

I've accepted the Blogging A to Z Challenge. All month, I'm going to blog about Books from A to Z.

How do you pick a favorite Vonnegut book?

Cat's CradleAs soon as one, say Cat's Cradle, with its Bokononism and ice-nine, pops into your head, you think, well what about the science fiction-y sweep and goodness of Sirens of Titan? Or the loopy and recursive Breakfast of Champions? I mean, sure, we all love Slaughterhouse Five as one of the definitive anti-war novels - and a great time travel novel to boot. But what about the melancholy and the hidden paintings in the barn of Bluebeard?

But that's just the start. What about Mr. Rosewater and the timeless advice he proffers to babies:

"Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ ”

What about the theme of Mother Night, so frequently presented and so important to remember:

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.

And there are more. And there are more. His voice was so much his, so reassuring in its cheerful pessimism.

But I come back to Cat's Cradle, the first Vonnegut I read, and to the presentation I did about the book for a high school English class. And I come back to that final image of Bokonon, lying on his back, frozen like a statue, thumbing his nose at you-know-who.

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