Yup, we’ve got that one

And more than one million more. Become a member today and read free for two weeks.

Read free for two weeks

Cat’s Cradle (1963) is Vonnegut’s most ambitious novel, which put into the language terms like “wampeter”, “kerass” and “granfalloon” as well as a structured religion, Boskonism and was submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements for a Master’s Degree in anthropology, and in its sprawling compass and almost uncontrolled (and uncontrollable) invention, may be Vonnegut’s best novel.

Written contemporaneously with the Cuban missile crisis and countenancing a version of a world in the grasp of magnified human stupidity, the novel is centered on Felix Hoenikker, a chemical scientist reminiscent of Robert Oppenheimer… except that Oppenheimer was destroyed by his conscience and Hoenikker, delighting in the disastrous chemicals he has invented, has no conscience at all. Hoenikker’s “Ice 9” has the potential to convert all liquid to inert ice and thus destroy human existence; he is exiled to a remote island where Boskonism has enlisted all of its inhabitants and where religion and technology collaborate, with the help of a large cast of characters, to destroy civilization.

Vonnegut’s compassion and despair are expressed here through his grotesque elaboration of character and situation and also through his created religion which like Flannery O’Connor’s “Church Without Christ” (in Wise Blood) acts to serve its adherents by removing them from individual responsibility. Vonnegut had always been taken seriously by science fiction readers and critics (a reception which indeed made him uncomfortable) but it was with Cat’s Cradle that he began to be found and appreciated by a more general audience. His own ambivalence toward science, science fiction, religion and religious comfort comes through in every scene of this novel.

Topics: Caribbean, 1960s, Bitter, Black Humor, Irreverent, Satirical, Apocalypse, Postmodern, 20th Century, and American Author

Published: RosettaBooks on
ISBN: 9780795311963
List price: $8.99
Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
Availability for Cat's Cradle
With a 30 day free trial you can read online for free
  1. This book can be read on up to 6 mobile devices.
Guaranteed to make you think. Can the glass be half full and half empty at the same time? Or is there never anything in the glass in the first place? What are we doing here, anyway? Humans are odd. Read this book. more
This book is probably my favorite of Vonnegut and seems to best capture his style. It is more in line with the rest of his writings than Slaughterhouse Five.more
I think that this novel is very well written, and if you take the time to think about the symbolism of each character as independently you start to really understand the book as a whole. One of my favoritesmore
Couldn't put it down. Vonnegut's satire is very delightfully entertaining. more
I enjoyed reading this book! I didn't want to put it down once I started reading!more
Typical Vonnegut mix of humor and pathos and truth masquerading as satire. John/Jonah is a writer looking to chronicle the life of the atom bomb creator, Felix Hoenikker. His journey takes him to a desert isle (San Lorenzo) makes him fall in love (the beautiful Mona) and ultimately lets loose ice-nine (freezing agent) with catastrophic effect. Vonnegut expounds on the absurdity of religion, the folly of the arms race, and ultimately, man's stupidity.more
Third book for the readathon.

I don't know what went wrong with reading Vonnegut before, but I liked Cat's Cradle a lot more than The Sirens of Titan. The short chapters helped -- I'm guessing some people find it too fragmented, but I found that that helped draw me on. The tone of it helps, too: dry and ironic.

There's something about the background characters, like Bokonon and Hoenikker, that's pretty compelling, too. The idea of ice-nine, and the fake religion that makes so much sense... I remember liking the ideas behind The Sirens of Titan, so maybe it isn't so surprising that I enjoyed Cat's Cradle.

As with several other books I've read recently (notably, Poul Anderson's books), I was encouraged to read this by the references to it in Jo Walton's Among Others. Busy, busy, busy...more
I first read Cat's Cradle for first year English Lit at uni and it was ground-breaking for me. It introduced me to the wonder that is Vonnegut's writing, which I have devoured it ever since. This rereading reminds me why I have listed my religion as Bokononist on Facebook (and that I'm not a very good Bokononist!) Not quite five stars this time around, since I *just* didn't find it quite as engrossing as I did at the age of 18. Perhaps it's not just age and has more to do with the recent sudden and unexpected death of my dad--I'm surely not in what you'd call a nOrmAl state of mind (whatever that may be). This still enormous and raw hole in my heart may be preventing me from being able to experience full joy and wonder in reading. Who knows. If that's the cause, I hope the situation changes soon, as wonderment born of reading is one of the great enrichers of my life.Busy, busy, busy.more
I liked Breakfast of Champions better.more
I really liked this book.I record this impression for whatever it may be worth. "Write it all down," Bokonon tells us. He is really telling us, of course, how futile it is to write or read book reviews. "Without accurate records and ratings of everything you ever read, how can men and women be expected to tell good books from the bad ones?" he asks ironically. So, again: I really liked this book.You, non-Bokononist readers, consider this a recommendation.more
Cat's Cradle is my first time reading Kurt Vonnegut. I'm not a big fan of made-up words (in this book's instance, such words include karass, kan-kan, the fictious religion Bokononism) but it was tolerable here. A lot of dark humor and sharp observations in this novel. I'm willing to read any of Vonnegut's other books. The reason why I give it 3 1/2 stars instead of 4 is because it took me a long time to read this, even though it's short. It's not difficult, just (for me) not a must-read-in-one-day type of book.A couple quotes:"She fired me. I shall never forget her. She believed that God liked people in sailboats much better than He liked people in motorboats. She could not bear to look at a worm. When she saw a worm, she screamed.She was a fool, and so am I, and so is anyone who thinks he sees what God is Doing, [writes Bokonon]."'The rum was served in coconut shells. I was unable to identify the sweet bouquet of the rum, though ti somehow reminded me of early adolescence. Frank was able to name the bouquet for me. "Acetone.""Acetone?""Used in model-airplane cement."I did not drink the rum.'more
Vonnegut’s novel poking fun at both war and religion is clever on so many levels. He captures the absurdity of creating an atomic bomb in the same way Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 tackles the subject of war. We seem hell-bent on insuring our own destruction. Our narrator is researching the fictional inventor of the atom bomb, Felix Hoenikker, and he learns more about his background through his strange son, Newton Hoenikker. Throughout the book cat’s cradle, a children’s yarn game, is used to show the meaninglessness of things. When looking at the overlapping lines of string Newton points out that there is no cat or cradle in the designs. Newton’s constant refrain… “See the cat? See the cradle?” … echoes through our minds as Vonnegut moves on to talk about the fictional religion, Bokononism. It’s a strange blend of cynical beliefs and nonsensical rituals and is practiced by the people who live on the remote island of San Lorenzo. In Vonnegut’s classic style, the belief system contradicts itself, overlapping forbidden laws and absurd practices. Vonnegut’s satire of religion is rivaled only by his mocking of the invention of weapons, in this case Ice-9, a weapon which freezes all the oceans of the world. Vonnegut’s life was filled with tragedy; his mother’s suicide, sister’s death and his time as a prisoner of war in Germany. Yet despite all the horrors he experienced, he still had an irrepressible sense of humor. Sure, it’s an incredibly dark sense of humor, but it’s there. BOTTOM LINE: One of my favorite Vonnegut novels, there is less of the extraterrestrial and more social commentary in this book. You don’t have to agree with all of his beliefs to appreciate his skill. If you’re a fan of Catch-22 I think you’d particularly enjoy this one. “When a man becomes a writer, I think he takes on a sacred obligation to produce beauty and enlightenment and comfort at top speed.” “She hated people who thought too much. At that moment she struck me as an appropriate representative for almost all mankind.” “The highest possible form of treason is to say that Americans aren’t loved wherever they go, whatever they do.”  more
short and sweet and very funny. i know the comparison might seem abusive but it reminds me a lot of Tom Robbings, although Cat's Cradle is trying to pierce a number of rather serious issues with a sharp and witty tongue.more
Read this years ago and loved it. Listening to in 2012, I can see what an influence Vonnegut’s absurdist, apocalyptic vision was on my early fiction. Now I find it interesting to see post-WWII literature’s attempt to deal with the forces that science had unleashed on the world and how much of Vonnegut’s conception has come to pass. While we don’t have Ice-9, a substance which can cause all the water on the planet to freeze at a much higher temperature than normal (perhaps Al Gore would like that!), we do have computer viruses and germ warfare, which are very real manifestations of the way the end of the world can spread like a contagion. The sexism stands out now as it did not when I first read this in high school. My husband and I are divided on how to view Vonnegut's vision of religion. I see the postmodern touch as less mocking than he does: after all, there are certainly many Episcopalians whose belief system is indistinguishable from Bokonism. So it goes. Tony Roberts reading was excellent, and the interview included at the end of the CD worth a listen.more
An amazing novel about war, religion and human beings. The narrator is researching Felix Hoenikker, a scientist who worked on the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. After tracking down Hoenikker's grown children, the narrator learns that the scientist was eccentric and uninterested in humanity. He was playing cat's cradle with a piece of string on the day the bomb was dropped."No wonder kids grow up crazy. A cat's cradle is nothing but a bunch of X's between somebody's hands, and little kids look and look and look at all those X's . . .""And?""No damn cat, and no damn cradle." (p. 165-166)Hoenikker also created ice-nine on a whim, when someone from the military complained to him about the difficulty armed forces had in the mud. Ice-nine turns out to be a terrible weapon, capable of bringing about the end of the world, and Hoenikker's three children all have a tiny piece of it. The narrator ends up on the small island of San Lorenzo, where Hoenikker's oldest son has been installed as a general and head science advisor for their local tyrant. San Lorenzo is a fascinating study of the balance of good and evil. Their ruler is a tyrant and the people are forbidden to follow the teachings of the holy man outlaw, Bokonon. So, of course, everyone on the island is a closet Bokononist, including the tyrant! The great play of the struggle between good vs. evil is meant to distract them from their impoverished lives. "Bokononism" itself is interesting - a religion that proclaims right up front that it's nothing but lies! It manages to be a hilarious satire of religion and somehow nuanced and uncannily deep at the same time. Cat's Cradle is a great satire of human society, religion, and war. And I can't help thinking that the Ambassador's cutting and brilliant speech from "Chapter 114: When I Felt the Bullet Enter My Heart" should be read at every world war remembrance type event:"I do not say that children at war do not die like men, if they have to die. To their everlasting honor and our everlasting shame, they do die like men . . . but they are murdered children all the same. . . . . we might best spend the day despising what killed them: which is to say, the stupidity and viciousness of mankind. "Perhaps, when we remember wars, we should take off our clothes and paint ourselves blue and go on all fours and grunt like pigs. That would surely be more appropriate than noble oratory and shows of flags and well-oiled guns." (p. 254)more
This is the second Kurt Vonnegut book I've read; the first was Slaughterhouse five.Vonnegut has a unique style that's instantly recognisable, and his books have some interesting philosophical questions and moral points wrapped up in some crazy background story.I found this an interesting book. The only negative point is that it dragged a bit in the middle. The ingredients of the story are all laid out by the half-way point, and it's fairly easy to see where the book is going from there.more
In this novel Kurt Vonnegut tells of a young writer who decides to interview the children of a scientist primarily responsible for the creation of the atomic bomb. Cat's Cradle was the fourth novel by Vonnegut and in it he explores issues of science, technology, and religion, satirizing the arms race and many other targets along the way. After turning down his original thesis, in 1971 the University of Chicago awarded Vonnegut his Master's degree in anthropology for Cat's Cradle telling you quite a bit about both Vonnegut and the university. The title of the book derives from the string game "cat's cradle." Early in the book we learn that Felix Hoenikker (a fictional co-inventor of the atom bomb) was playing cat's cradle when the bomb was dropped, and the game is later referenced by his son, Newton Hoenikker. I read this during my 'science fiction era' and Vonnegut was one my great reads from that time.more
Kurt Vonnegut was a satirical MASTER and for me this is his best work. Cat's Cradle was a post-apocalyptic novel before that term was cool. It's a brilliant premise and the characters are perfect. Ice-9 scares the crap out of me! LOLmore
Shortly into my effort to reread (or, in some cases, read) the Vonnegut canon, I was disheartened. Other than MOTHER NIGHT, the books weren't nearly as good as I had remembered them being. The feeling was reminiscent of re-viewing THE GRADUATE twenty years after its release. Was this all there was?Bless you, Kurt, for writing CAT'S CRADLE. Though my memories of the book's details were spotty, I remembered some elements--chiefly, Bokononism and and the dreaded Ice Nine.Great book. And just the impetus I needed to continue my quest.more
Really boring through most of the book, but keep plowing ahead. The last two pages or so make the whole thing worth it!more
It begins with "Nothing in this book is true; Live by the fomas (harmless untruths) that make you brave and happy and kind" which is the greatest lesson one can learn from reading this. Very excellent! It is in the absurdist style like his other works, but this seems more bleak than others. The driving force is the paradox that life seems to have no meaning, since it is rather brutal and short and we are mostly unhappy, but that everyone seems to be pulled to a specific end - that we are on strings pulled by God, but not a beneficent God, one who was just interested in making something out of mud that could admire all the other cool stuff that he made out of mud. It is thus a treatis on religion, that it is always all lies, that we need to confort ourselves and that our search to find meaning makes us human, but it is a meaningless search because there is no meaning, there is no plan, just like there is no cradle or cat made by the string in a cat's cradle - the strings of your life draw you in to places, but the reasoning you create is probably not true. It's about humans inability to ever really know and our desperate attempts to try to know. Another idea is that unless everyone is happy and healthy - with enough food and wealth (which is a utopia, and thus impossible) then they need a reason for the baddess that happens i.e. God which is good vs. evil. Even though this is more plot driven (which it would have to be since it's about what the driving force between people's destinies is) It is also ruminations on people - they are selfish and self-serving and we are what will destroy the world. The best example of this is Dr. Hoenickker, who invented the atomic bomb, without understanding the consequences of his actions. He is a "pure researcher" and he shows how dangerous Vonnegut believes science without conscience can be. His children take his apocalyptic final invention, Ice-9, which turns all water into ice with a melting point of over 100 degrees and buy themselves happiness. There are tidbits added to each character that makes them round, and not flat, like the fact that Angela devotes her life to her father - that kind of devotion and unconditional love is nothing but admirable and something all people desire - and the clarinet and plays it beautifully. Newt is the most sympathetic - the tiny (midget) guy kills his mother with his birth, his father was distant and bizzare, and people treat his like an idiot or a child since he is handicapped, which he deals with admirablely - understanding to people who take advantage of him as well - even loving the other midget who turned out to be a Russian spy who was after only his Ice-9. (the Cold War setting influences the book- the arms race is what created the atomic bomb and the reason Hoenickker is allowed to play with the idea of how to freeze the water in mud.)The most brilliant part of this book is that Vonnegut gives you so much with so little. This makes it an excellent place for reading comprehension passages because the headings tells you what to look for and focus in on to find the meaning of the exchange. The themes are that war is ridiculous and brutal (like always), human nature is selfish and will lead to our own destruction, the human need to lie to ourselves because the truth of our brutish and difficult life is too depressing to allow us to want to go on.more
Those books that you read, and after finishing them you're just astounded by their revelatory nature? As fleeting as it may be, the book makes you an insufferable fan of the author where you have to tell everyone how great it is and how it's changed your life? Yeah, that was Cat's Cradle for me. The book is unyielding in its sarcasm and almost nihilistic worldview, but complementing that is one of the more playful depictions of religion in print. If I were to read it now I'd feel differently about it, but for the 18 year old me, this was a spectacular book and one that has really informed my fiction reading for the last decade.more
It was interesting re-reading this after not having touched it since maybe 30 years ago. Way back then as a youngish man, I was swept up by its originality and absurdist elements, taking me on a wild ride unlike any I had experienced before in a novel. This time through, probably both due to my changed outlook on life and the fact that so many of those elements that made it unique are less unusual now, I found myself feeling very different while reading it. Now I was much more caught up in seeing something of Vonnegut's views on "life, the universe, and everything" and comparing and contrasting them to my own. It became less of a "fun" read for me, but made up for that by becoming a more meaningful book. Therefore I can still highly recommend this to all (though it may rub those with strong and unbending religious beliefs the wrong way)."Maturity," Bokonon tells us, "is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything."more
Kurt Vonnegut's black comedy "Cat's Cradle" is a commentary on the science, religion and above all the nuclear arms race. Its protagonist, Johan, is writing a book about an atomic scientist who thought up an even more dangerous weapon -- ice that essentially freezes at room temperature. I found the book hilarious, while thought provoking and a little scary at the same time. Nobody does social commentary better than Kurt Vonnegut and this is one of his best.more
My first Kurt Vonnegut book left me kind of disappointed after everything I'd read about his works. I admit the overall idea of Cat's Cradle was good but at times I was bored and I felt like the author went off on brief tangents that really had little to do with the main idea. I enjoyed the battle of science vs religion feeling and was left with the message that there will never be a clear victor in that epic battle. In all, I found this book not unbearable to read...but neither did I find it worthy of another read.more
Oh, Kurt Vonnegut, you're totally still funny! And the criticism of the arms-race and neutrality-of-science mentalities is still trenchant, and ice-nine is still terrifying, and you have kind of queasily problematic attitudes about pretty women and black dudes and midgets--namely, that they're all there in part for comedy--but this still makes a great airport read. Theodore Sturgeon said you'd better take it lightly because if you don't you'll never sleep again, or words to that effect. Good, accurate blurbing, that.more
This book took on a world of its own. You laugh, you cry...It made fun of the way humans treat the earth and science in general. Science is supposed to be an aide to use and yet it often hinders human potential. I felt the need to ponder this book and different parts of it after I finished reading it. However, my one criticism of this book is its failure to tie certain things together (although, I can't help but wonder if I just didn't see what Vonnegut did). Items like the Angel headstone in Illium and the family reference for the main character - what did that mean? Was I supposed to know? Did it reference it later in the book and I just missed it? How about this one: how did Angela get the hot guy to marry her? She told him she would give him ice-nine if he slept with her? That kind of boggles my mind! Or what about the fact that Bokonon insisted that all religion is a lie? This really had me thinking - religion is based on faith. Whether or not they are lies, we will never know I suppose. Overall this is a must-read.more
I bought this at an airport bookstore on a whim and enjoyed it immensely. Well written, slightly goofy, LOL a couple of times. This is how criticism can be really effective. Much better than hate speech.more
I thought the novel wonderfully absurd without being particularly funny. It starts slow but eventually Vonnegut starts hitting his targets and thereafter it's another bleak pronouncement on human folly.A good book and a decent starting point for reading Vonnegut, but not the author's best.more
Read all 96 reviews

Reviews

Guaranteed to make you think. Can the glass be half full and half empty at the same time? Or is there never anything in the glass in the first place? What are we doing here, anyway? Humans are odd. Read this book. more
This book is probably my favorite of Vonnegut and seems to best capture his style. It is more in line with the rest of his writings than Slaughterhouse Five.more
I think that this novel is very well written, and if you take the time to think about the symbolism of each character as independently you start to really understand the book as a whole. One of my favoritesmore
Couldn't put it down. Vonnegut's satire is very delightfully entertaining. more
I enjoyed reading this book! I didn't want to put it down once I started reading!more
Typical Vonnegut mix of humor and pathos and truth masquerading as satire. John/Jonah is a writer looking to chronicle the life of the atom bomb creator, Felix Hoenikker. His journey takes him to a desert isle (San Lorenzo) makes him fall in love (the beautiful Mona) and ultimately lets loose ice-nine (freezing agent) with catastrophic effect. Vonnegut expounds on the absurdity of religion, the folly of the arms race, and ultimately, man's stupidity.more
Third book for the readathon.

I don't know what went wrong with reading Vonnegut before, but I liked Cat's Cradle a lot more than The Sirens of Titan. The short chapters helped -- I'm guessing some people find it too fragmented, but I found that that helped draw me on. The tone of it helps, too: dry and ironic.

There's something about the background characters, like Bokonon and Hoenikker, that's pretty compelling, too. The idea of ice-nine, and the fake religion that makes so much sense... I remember liking the ideas behind The Sirens of Titan, so maybe it isn't so surprising that I enjoyed Cat's Cradle.

As with several other books I've read recently (notably, Poul Anderson's books), I was encouraged to read this by the references to it in Jo Walton's Among Others. Busy, busy, busy...more
I first read Cat's Cradle for first year English Lit at uni and it was ground-breaking for me. It introduced me to the wonder that is Vonnegut's writing, which I have devoured it ever since. This rereading reminds me why I have listed my religion as Bokononist on Facebook (and that I'm not a very good Bokononist!) Not quite five stars this time around, since I *just* didn't find it quite as engrossing as I did at the age of 18. Perhaps it's not just age and has more to do with the recent sudden and unexpected death of my dad--I'm surely not in what you'd call a nOrmAl state of mind (whatever that may be). This still enormous and raw hole in my heart may be preventing me from being able to experience full joy and wonder in reading. Who knows. If that's the cause, I hope the situation changes soon, as wonderment born of reading is one of the great enrichers of my life.Busy, busy, busy.more
I liked Breakfast of Champions better.more
I really liked this book.I record this impression for whatever it may be worth. "Write it all down," Bokonon tells us. He is really telling us, of course, how futile it is to write or read book reviews. "Without accurate records and ratings of everything you ever read, how can men and women be expected to tell good books from the bad ones?" he asks ironically. So, again: I really liked this book.You, non-Bokononist readers, consider this a recommendation.more
Cat's Cradle is my first time reading Kurt Vonnegut. I'm not a big fan of made-up words (in this book's instance, such words include karass, kan-kan, the fictious religion Bokononism) but it was tolerable here. A lot of dark humor and sharp observations in this novel. I'm willing to read any of Vonnegut's other books. The reason why I give it 3 1/2 stars instead of 4 is because it took me a long time to read this, even though it's short. It's not difficult, just (for me) not a must-read-in-one-day type of book.A couple quotes:"She fired me. I shall never forget her. She believed that God liked people in sailboats much better than He liked people in motorboats. She could not bear to look at a worm. When she saw a worm, she screamed.She was a fool, and so am I, and so is anyone who thinks he sees what God is Doing, [writes Bokonon]."'The rum was served in coconut shells. I was unable to identify the sweet bouquet of the rum, though ti somehow reminded me of early adolescence. Frank was able to name the bouquet for me. "Acetone.""Acetone?""Used in model-airplane cement."I did not drink the rum.'more
Vonnegut’s novel poking fun at both war and religion is clever on so many levels. He captures the absurdity of creating an atomic bomb in the same way Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 tackles the subject of war. We seem hell-bent on insuring our own destruction. Our narrator is researching the fictional inventor of the atom bomb, Felix Hoenikker, and he learns more about his background through his strange son, Newton Hoenikker. Throughout the book cat’s cradle, a children’s yarn game, is used to show the meaninglessness of things. When looking at the overlapping lines of string Newton points out that there is no cat or cradle in the designs. Newton’s constant refrain… “See the cat? See the cradle?” … echoes through our minds as Vonnegut moves on to talk about the fictional religion, Bokononism. It’s a strange blend of cynical beliefs and nonsensical rituals and is practiced by the people who live on the remote island of San Lorenzo. In Vonnegut’s classic style, the belief system contradicts itself, overlapping forbidden laws and absurd practices. Vonnegut’s satire of religion is rivaled only by his mocking of the invention of weapons, in this case Ice-9, a weapon which freezes all the oceans of the world. Vonnegut’s life was filled with tragedy; his mother’s suicide, sister’s death and his time as a prisoner of war in Germany. Yet despite all the horrors he experienced, he still had an irrepressible sense of humor. Sure, it’s an incredibly dark sense of humor, but it’s there. BOTTOM LINE: One of my favorite Vonnegut novels, there is less of the extraterrestrial and more social commentary in this book. You don’t have to agree with all of his beliefs to appreciate his skill. If you’re a fan of Catch-22 I think you’d particularly enjoy this one. “When a man becomes a writer, I think he takes on a sacred obligation to produce beauty and enlightenment and comfort at top speed.” “She hated people who thought too much. At that moment she struck me as an appropriate representative for almost all mankind.” “The highest possible form of treason is to say that Americans aren’t loved wherever they go, whatever they do.”  more
short and sweet and very funny. i know the comparison might seem abusive but it reminds me a lot of Tom Robbings, although Cat's Cradle is trying to pierce a number of rather serious issues with a sharp and witty tongue.more
Read this years ago and loved it. Listening to in 2012, I can see what an influence Vonnegut’s absurdist, apocalyptic vision was on my early fiction. Now I find it interesting to see post-WWII literature’s attempt to deal with the forces that science had unleashed on the world and how much of Vonnegut’s conception has come to pass. While we don’t have Ice-9, a substance which can cause all the water on the planet to freeze at a much higher temperature than normal (perhaps Al Gore would like that!), we do have computer viruses and germ warfare, which are very real manifestations of the way the end of the world can spread like a contagion. The sexism stands out now as it did not when I first read this in high school. My husband and I are divided on how to view Vonnegut's vision of religion. I see the postmodern touch as less mocking than he does: after all, there are certainly many Episcopalians whose belief system is indistinguishable from Bokonism. So it goes. Tony Roberts reading was excellent, and the interview included at the end of the CD worth a listen.more
An amazing novel about war, religion and human beings. The narrator is researching Felix Hoenikker, a scientist who worked on the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. After tracking down Hoenikker's grown children, the narrator learns that the scientist was eccentric and uninterested in humanity. He was playing cat's cradle with a piece of string on the day the bomb was dropped."No wonder kids grow up crazy. A cat's cradle is nothing but a bunch of X's between somebody's hands, and little kids look and look and look at all those X's . . .""And?""No damn cat, and no damn cradle." (p. 165-166)Hoenikker also created ice-nine on a whim, when someone from the military complained to him about the difficulty armed forces had in the mud. Ice-nine turns out to be a terrible weapon, capable of bringing about the end of the world, and Hoenikker's three children all have a tiny piece of it. The narrator ends up on the small island of San Lorenzo, where Hoenikker's oldest son has been installed as a general and head science advisor for their local tyrant. San Lorenzo is a fascinating study of the balance of good and evil. Their ruler is a tyrant and the people are forbidden to follow the teachings of the holy man outlaw, Bokonon. So, of course, everyone on the island is a closet Bokononist, including the tyrant! The great play of the struggle between good vs. evil is meant to distract them from their impoverished lives. "Bokononism" itself is interesting - a religion that proclaims right up front that it's nothing but lies! It manages to be a hilarious satire of religion and somehow nuanced and uncannily deep at the same time. Cat's Cradle is a great satire of human society, religion, and war. And I can't help thinking that the Ambassador's cutting and brilliant speech from "Chapter 114: When I Felt the Bullet Enter My Heart" should be read at every world war remembrance type event:"I do not say that children at war do not die like men, if they have to die. To their everlasting honor and our everlasting shame, they do die like men . . . but they are murdered children all the same. . . . . we might best spend the day despising what killed them: which is to say, the stupidity and viciousness of mankind. "Perhaps, when we remember wars, we should take off our clothes and paint ourselves blue and go on all fours and grunt like pigs. That would surely be more appropriate than noble oratory and shows of flags and well-oiled guns." (p. 254)more
This is the second Kurt Vonnegut book I've read; the first was Slaughterhouse five.Vonnegut has a unique style that's instantly recognisable, and his books have some interesting philosophical questions and moral points wrapped up in some crazy background story.I found this an interesting book. The only negative point is that it dragged a bit in the middle. The ingredients of the story are all laid out by the half-way point, and it's fairly easy to see where the book is going from there.more
In this novel Kurt Vonnegut tells of a young writer who decides to interview the children of a scientist primarily responsible for the creation of the atomic bomb. Cat's Cradle was the fourth novel by Vonnegut and in it he explores issues of science, technology, and religion, satirizing the arms race and many other targets along the way. After turning down his original thesis, in 1971 the University of Chicago awarded Vonnegut his Master's degree in anthropology for Cat's Cradle telling you quite a bit about both Vonnegut and the university. The title of the book derives from the string game "cat's cradle." Early in the book we learn that Felix Hoenikker (a fictional co-inventor of the atom bomb) was playing cat's cradle when the bomb was dropped, and the game is later referenced by his son, Newton Hoenikker. I read this during my 'science fiction era' and Vonnegut was one my great reads from that time.more
Kurt Vonnegut was a satirical MASTER and for me this is his best work. Cat's Cradle was a post-apocalyptic novel before that term was cool. It's a brilliant premise and the characters are perfect. Ice-9 scares the crap out of me! LOLmore
Shortly into my effort to reread (or, in some cases, read) the Vonnegut canon, I was disheartened. Other than MOTHER NIGHT, the books weren't nearly as good as I had remembered them being. The feeling was reminiscent of re-viewing THE GRADUATE twenty years after its release. Was this all there was?Bless you, Kurt, for writing CAT'S CRADLE. Though my memories of the book's details were spotty, I remembered some elements--chiefly, Bokononism and and the dreaded Ice Nine.Great book. And just the impetus I needed to continue my quest.more
Really boring through most of the book, but keep plowing ahead. The last two pages or so make the whole thing worth it!more
It begins with "Nothing in this book is true; Live by the fomas (harmless untruths) that make you brave and happy and kind" which is the greatest lesson one can learn from reading this. Very excellent! It is in the absurdist style like his other works, but this seems more bleak than others. The driving force is the paradox that life seems to have no meaning, since it is rather brutal and short and we are mostly unhappy, but that everyone seems to be pulled to a specific end - that we are on strings pulled by God, but not a beneficent God, one who was just interested in making something out of mud that could admire all the other cool stuff that he made out of mud. It is thus a treatis on religion, that it is always all lies, that we need to confort ourselves and that our search to find meaning makes us human, but it is a meaningless search because there is no meaning, there is no plan, just like there is no cradle or cat made by the string in a cat's cradle - the strings of your life draw you in to places, but the reasoning you create is probably not true. It's about humans inability to ever really know and our desperate attempts to try to know. Another idea is that unless everyone is happy and healthy - with enough food and wealth (which is a utopia, and thus impossible) then they need a reason for the baddess that happens i.e. God which is good vs. evil. Even though this is more plot driven (which it would have to be since it's about what the driving force between people's destinies is) It is also ruminations on people - they are selfish and self-serving and we are what will destroy the world. The best example of this is Dr. Hoenickker, who invented the atomic bomb, without understanding the consequences of his actions. He is a "pure researcher" and he shows how dangerous Vonnegut believes science without conscience can be. His children take his apocalyptic final invention, Ice-9, which turns all water into ice with a melting point of over 100 degrees and buy themselves happiness. There are tidbits added to each character that makes them round, and not flat, like the fact that Angela devotes her life to her father - that kind of devotion and unconditional love is nothing but admirable and something all people desire - and the clarinet and plays it beautifully. Newt is the most sympathetic - the tiny (midget) guy kills his mother with his birth, his father was distant and bizzare, and people treat his like an idiot or a child since he is handicapped, which he deals with admirablely - understanding to people who take advantage of him as well - even loving the other midget who turned out to be a Russian spy who was after only his Ice-9. (the Cold War setting influences the book- the arms race is what created the atomic bomb and the reason Hoenickker is allowed to play with the idea of how to freeze the water in mud.)The most brilliant part of this book is that Vonnegut gives you so much with so little. This makes it an excellent place for reading comprehension passages because the headings tells you what to look for and focus in on to find the meaning of the exchange. The themes are that war is ridiculous and brutal (like always), human nature is selfish and will lead to our own destruction, the human need to lie to ourselves because the truth of our brutish and difficult life is too depressing to allow us to want to go on.more
Those books that you read, and after finishing them you're just astounded by their revelatory nature? As fleeting as it may be, the book makes you an insufferable fan of the author where you have to tell everyone how great it is and how it's changed your life? Yeah, that was Cat's Cradle for me. The book is unyielding in its sarcasm and almost nihilistic worldview, but complementing that is one of the more playful depictions of religion in print. If I were to read it now I'd feel differently about it, but for the 18 year old me, this was a spectacular book and one that has really informed my fiction reading for the last decade.more
It was interesting re-reading this after not having touched it since maybe 30 years ago. Way back then as a youngish man, I was swept up by its originality and absurdist elements, taking me on a wild ride unlike any I had experienced before in a novel. This time through, probably both due to my changed outlook on life and the fact that so many of those elements that made it unique are less unusual now, I found myself feeling very different while reading it. Now I was much more caught up in seeing something of Vonnegut's views on "life, the universe, and everything" and comparing and contrasting them to my own. It became less of a "fun" read for me, but made up for that by becoming a more meaningful book. Therefore I can still highly recommend this to all (though it may rub those with strong and unbending religious beliefs the wrong way)."Maturity," Bokonon tells us, "is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything."more
Kurt Vonnegut's black comedy "Cat's Cradle" is a commentary on the science, religion and above all the nuclear arms race. Its protagonist, Johan, is writing a book about an atomic scientist who thought up an even more dangerous weapon -- ice that essentially freezes at room temperature. I found the book hilarious, while thought provoking and a little scary at the same time. Nobody does social commentary better than Kurt Vonnegut and this is one of his best.more
My first Kurt Vonnegut book left me kind of disappointed after everything I'd read about his works. I admit the overall idea of Cat's Cradle was good but at times I was bored and I felt like the author went off on brief tangents that really had little to do with the main idea. I enjoyed the battle of science vs religion feeling and was left with the message that there will never be a clear victor in that epic battle. In all, I found this book not unbearable to read...but neither did I find it worthy of another read.more
Oh, Kurt Vonnegut, you're totally still funny! And the criticism of the arms-race and neutrality-of-science mentalities is still trenchant, and ice-nine is still terrifying, and you have kind of queasily problematic attitudes about pretty women and black dudes and midgets--namely, that they're all there in part for comedy--but this still makes a great airport read. Theodore Sturgeon said you'd better take it lightly because if you don't you'll never sleep again, or words to that effect. Good, accurate blurbing, that.more
This book took on a world of its own. You laugh, you cry...It made fun of the way humans treat the earth and science in general. Science is supposed to be an aide to use and yet it often hinders human potential. I felt the need to ponder this book and different parts of it after I finished reading it. However, my one criticism of this book is its failure to tie certain things together (although, I can't help but wonder if I just didn't see what Vonnegut did). Items like the Angel headstone in Illium and the family reference for the main character - what did that mean? Was I supposed to know? Did it reference it later in the book and I just missed it? How about this one: how did Angela get the hot guy to marry her? She told him she would give him ice-nine if he slept with her? That kind of boggles my mind! Or what about the fact that Bokonon insisted that all religion is a lie? This really had me thinking - religion is based on faith. Whether or not they are lies, we will never know I suppose. Overall this is a must-read.more
I bought this at an airport bookstore on a whim and enjoyed it immensely. Well written, slightly goofy, LOL a couple of times. This is how criticism can be really effective. Much better than hate speech.more
I thought the novel wonderfully absurd without being particularly funny. It starts slow but eventually Vonnegut starts hitting his targets and thereafter it's another bleak pronouncement on human folly.A good book and a decent starting point for reading Vonnegut, but not the author's best.more
Load more
scribd