Archive for July, 2011

My cousin writes about baseball

Monday, July 11th, 2011

I always enjoy when my cousin writes about his youth and about sports.  This is an evocative and delightful example.

Review: Cat’s Cradle

Monday, July 11th, 2011

I am amazed how different Kurt Vonnegut’s books can be while remaining Vonnegut books.  Cat’s Cradle has a unique tone and focus among his work, but it is difficult to imagine a reader believing that anyone else wrote it.

Cradle has a lot to say about religion, science, government and how they all interact as constructs of the complex humans who create them.  The water is deep there, but the environment is plenty warm.  While Vonnegut calls out the follies and inconsistencies of people and their intellectual constructs, he is always wryly affectionate to the individual people – or their fictional equivalents.

This is the work from which Vonnegut’s calypso-themed Bokononism religion appears, and is one of the key characters.  The religion gives him plenty to say about how they start and perpetuate themselves, but his genius is in making it simultaneously inviting.  A semi-nihilistic Caribbean religion with pidgin calypso hymns sounds pretty good.  No matter how calculated and ridiculous Bokononism sounds at times in the book, the underlying attractiveness of it takes some of the teeth out of the satire.  That warm feeling goes a long way.

It also contains a Memorial Day speech that is every bit as powerful as Mark Twain’s The War Prayer, while remaining respectful of the valor of young soldiers.  Vonnegut manages to scorch the men who lead young men to war while still lauding their spirit.  It is a remarkable piece of writing, and worth reading even if the rest of Cradle is not for you.

Overall an interesting work that walks a tightrope between satire and warmth.

Strongly Recommended.