Saturday, October 2, 2010


Vonnegut's eighth novel is not exactly one of his best, but I still found it pretty enjoyable. He calls it "the closest thing" he'll ever write to an autobiography, and it begins with a relatively long prologue that is both funny and surprisingly poignant, where he writes about how he came to write the book and reveals where a lot of the pieces of the plot came from before you actually know they're in there. The novel itself follows at a very brisk pace, with this being one of the quickest to read Vonnegut books I've tackled. The writing style just lends itself to being absorbed in huge chunks, because it's very disconnected with extremely short chapters. Despite the small word count the plot itself isn't very dense, so it's quite simple to just power through in a couple sittings.

And you don't mind doing so because it's pretty funny and has some weird new ideas. The whole thing is written as the late-life memoir of a pretty strange man, born a freak with an unusual attachment to his twin sister, eventually growing to be President of the United States as the country slides into anarchy as the result of some strange diseases. Some of the stuff from his youth gets pretty uncomfortable, and the descent of civilization is just downright odd. While capable of providing a few laughs, the strongest part of the story might just be its structure, with the way it slowly fills in the picture from both directions, and a few pretty good bits of foreshadowing just from putting two and two together with the way it was written. Again, not really one of my favorites, but still a pretty enjoyable book from a great author.

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