Tuesday, October 1, 2013

by Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut tends to be one of those authors that you just get or you don’t. I love his sarcastic style, but I know it doesn’t work for everyone. I also think I have a particular soft spot for him because he is a fellow Hoosier.

In this novel we meet Mary, a widow who is taking a cruise to the Galapagos islands. Little does she know that their cruise ship will soon become a second Noah’s ark when the world ends and the only people left are those on the ship. The story is told a million years in the future by the son of Kilgore Trout. The few remaining humans must attempt to restart the human race on the Galapagos islands.

One of the themes in Vonnegut’s work is the absurdity of man; our willingness to destroy both ourselves and each other. This is a central point in Galapagos as well. He can’t help but add a few lines about his own big brain’s crazy idea to go fight in Vietnam, which echoes his own experience fighting in WWII.  

BOTTOM LINE: An overlooked classic and one of Vonnegut’s better books. If you’ve already checked out his big ones (Breakfast of Champions, Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat’s Cradle) then pick this one up. It’s an incredibly quick read and sure to make you laugh if you love Vonnegut’s sense of humor.

“I say the same thing about the death of James Wait: "Oh, well - he wasn't going to write Beethoven's Ninth Symphony anyway." This wry comment on how little most of us were likely to accomplish in life, no matter how long we lived, isn't my own invention.”

p.s. A few of Vonnegut’s best lines.

This was my Classics Club Spin book for September and a book on my 2013 TBR list.


Anonymous said...

Good review! :o)

Unfortunately I'm one of those people you mentioned who doesn't 'get' Vonnegut. I've tried a few of his books including Slaughterhouse-Five and I hated it! lol

Perhaps it's time to give him another try.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I can't even tell you if I've ever read him for sure. Maybe Slaughterhouse Five in high school? Well, the premise of this one sounds good, based on your description I'd read it.

Brona said...

I have yet to try a Vonnegut, but I now know from working in an Indie bookshop, that there are people out there who judge a bookshop on whether or not it stocks any Vonnegut!

What is a hoosier by the way (for those of on the other side of the world)?

Jeanne said...

Although I've read everything else by him, I've never read this one. Wasn't it written very late in his life? Maybe I should try it.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Reading Renegade - He's definitely not for everyone!

Sandy - His sarcasm always makes me laugh.

Brona - That's awesome! A Hoosier is someone who lives in or is from Indiana in the USA. No one knows where it came from, but that's what we're called : )

Jeanne - It was published in 1985, so later than some of his famous ones.

Andi said...

I'm so glad to see that you liked this one. I have Slaughterhouse on my stacks, but I wanted something else by Vonnegut, and I picked this one up recently.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Andi - I know Slaughterhouse is his most famous work, but honestly I don't think it's the best place to start with him. I would highly recommend A Man Without a Country!