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Timequake (1997) exists in two conjoined versions (“Timequake One”/”Timequake Two”) and in meta-fictional mode is a novel about a novel, composed in short, arbitrary chapters and using its large cast of characters and disoriented chronology to mimic the “timequake” which is its subject. Some cosmic upheaval has hurled the entire population a decade back where, in full consciousness (but helplessly entrapped) everyone’s pitiable and embarrassing mistakes are helplessly enacted again.

By this stage of his life--he was 72 the year the novel was published--Vonnegut was still wearing his luminescent bells and Harlequin’s cape, but these had become dusty and the cape no longer fitted. Vonnegut’s exasperation and sense of futility could no longer be concealed or shaped, and this novel is a laboratory of technique (deliberately) gone wrong, a study of breakdown.

Vonnegut had never shown much hope in his work for human destiny or occupation; the naive optimism of Eliot Rosewater in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater had in the damaged veteran Billy Pilgrim of Slaughterhouse-Five become a naive fantasy of escape to a sexual heaven. In the nihilism of Timequake, the only escape is re-enactment, but re-enactment has lost hope and force.

This is no Groundhog Day in which Vonnegut traps his various refugees (many escaped from his earlier works) but a hell of lost possibility. The temporal timequake of the title is the actual spiritual fracture of the 20th century, and in his 73rd year Vonnegut envisions no hope, not even the hollow diversions of Slapstick. Vonnegut’s imaginative journey, closely tracked by his work, is one of the most intriguing for any American writer of the twentieth century.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) is one of the most beloved American writers of the twentieth century. Vonnegut’s audience increased steadily since his first five pieces in the 1950s and grew from there. His 1968 novel Slaughterhouse-Five has become a canonic war novel with Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 to form the truest and darkest of what came from World War II.

Vonnegut began his career as a science fiction writer, and his early novels--Player Piano and The Sirens of Titan--were categorized as such even as they appealed to an audience far beyond the reach of the category. In the 1960s, Vonnegut became closely associated with the Baby Boomer generation, a writer on that side, so to speak.

Now that Vonnegut’s work has been studied as a large body of work, it has been more deeply understood and unified. There is a consistency to his satirical insight, humor and anger which makes his work so synergistic. It seems clear that the more of Vonnegut’s work you read, the more it resonates and the more you wish to read. Scholars believe that Vonnegut’s reputation (like Mark Twain’s) will grow steadily through the decades as his work continues to increase in relevance and new connections are formed, new insights made.

ABOUT THE SERIES

Author Kurt Vonnegut is considered by most to be one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. His books Slaughterhouse-Five (named after Vonnegut’s World War II POW experience) and Cat’s Cradle are considered among his top works. RosettaBooks offers here a complete range of Vonnegut’s work, including his first novel (Player Piano, 1952) for readers familiar with Vonnegut’s work as well as newcomers.

Published: RosettaBooks on Jan 22, 1920
ISBN: 9780795318658
List price: $8.99
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i just finished this this book. i think that vonnegut is hilarious. this book made me think and wonder why he made this book. it makes me sad that he has passed away : ( this book did confuse me a bit not being able to really follow the time quakes. but still an interesting book. i loved itread more
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Paper-thin plot, but interesting enough in its own mostly-autobiographical way. Poignant and beautiful at times, but Mr. Vonnegut mostly just comes across as curmudgeonly old man. But then I guess he was at this point.read more
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So this was a book club book that caused a lot of disagreement. Between Vonnegut fans and Vonnegut rookies, we couldn't decide whether the loose and ramshackle structure was playful, intentional, or just plain rambling. For a short and digressive book there are a lot of ideas about time and life, painful digs into the past and a wise (or at least resigned) acceptance of the simple pleasures and pains that life brings with it.read more
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The premise is brilliant: Once upon a time the universe decided to rewind things ten years. Everyone has to relive the previous ten years over again. Some are put back in prison. Others are brought back to life. Everyone realizes rather quickly that they can't do anything to alter things. They relive an entire decade as slaves to their own former choices.Things get interesting when they re-approach the 10 year mark where the universe decided to do grand rewind. After living ten years on auto-pilot, people don't know what to do with free will!Unfortunately, the actual book doesn't live up to the brilliance of the plot. Vonnegut's meandering random style—which in other works is unique and endearing—is too scattered here. There are moments of brilliance but, in the end, too much confusion.Ting-a-ling!read more
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"Later work" often means "lesser work," but not in Vonnegut's case. Timequake reminded me of every reason I love Vonnegut. It was funny and sad, and occasionally bordered on mind-blowing. The passages about writing make it particularly enjoyable for those who like to write.read more
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Vonnegut would probably describe himself as a likeable old fart. This, his self-proclaimed last novel, was not so endearing. I wondered why, if the world had turned so sour on him, he wanted to tell everyone about it.read more
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Freakin' amazing! If you hate people you need to read this book. Seriously. It will make you hate them more. And enjoy your hatred more. Wow. Seriously. Wow.read more
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My reading of this book came almost exclusively by accident -- from my father's generosity in buying it for me to my inexplicable need to pick it up just as I was to go to sleep last night. Needless to say, as I've read it in less than 24 hours, it was a very happy accident.This is a different breed of Vonnegut, a Vonnegut that is as funny as he's ever been, but more caustic too. In salvaging a failed novel by interspersing its summation with ruminations on his life and characters, Vonnegut has created a living, breathing memorial to himself that's filled with the kind of humor, pathos, satire, scathing commentary, and pithy wisdom we've come to expect.This is a battle-hardened Vonnegut, an angry but wizened Vonnegut, and it's among the very best Vonnegut there is.read more
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More like a biography. Not that funny. Repitious. No story, just babbling.read more
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Only KV's '07Apr death made me aware that I had missed this last "novel" of his. Autobographical snippets and points of personal philosophy outweigh the fictional element of a ten-year time "rerun" during which (the illusion of?) free will is inoperative. But the style is as pleasingly disjointed as earlier Vonnegut, and Kilgore Trout is heavily involved -- what more can be asked for?read more
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Quotes"All I do with short story ideas now is rough them out, credit them to Kilgore Trout, and put them in a novel." p. 30"When the bad sister was a young woman, she and the nuts worked up designs for television cameras and transmitters and receivers. Then she got money from her very rich mom to manufacture and market these satanic devices, which made imaginations redundant. They were instantly popular because the shows were so attractive and no thinking was involved. She made a lot of money, but what really pleased her was that her two sisters were starting to feel like something the cat drug in. Young Booboolings didn't see any point in developing imaginations anymore, since all they had to do was turn on a switch and see all kinds of jazzy shit. They would look at a printed page or a painting and wonder how anybody could have gotten his or her rocks off looking at things that simple and dead." p. 35p. 31"The timequake of 2001 was a cosmic charley horse in the sinews of Destiny. At what was in New York City 2:27 p.m. on February 13th of that year, the Universe suffered a crisis in self-confidence. Should it go on expanding indefinitely? What was the point? "It fibrillated with indecision. Maybe it should have a family reunion back where it all began, and then make a great big BANG again. "It suddenly shrunk ten years. It zapped me and everybody else back to February 17th, 1991, what was for me 7:51 a.m., and a line outside a blood bank in San Diego, California. "For reasons best known to itself, though, the Universe canceled the family reunion, for the nonce at least. It resumed expansion. Which faction, if any, cast the deciding votes on whether to expand or shrink, I cannot say. Despite my having lived for eighty-four years, or ninety-four, if you want to count the rerun, many questions, about the Universe remain for me unanswered. It was free will that did all the damage. The timequake and its aftershocks didn't map as much as a single strand in a spider's web, unless some other force had snapped that strand the first time through.p. 41Yes, and all the people falling down in Timequake One, and now in this book, are like "FUCK ART!" spray-painted across the steel front door of the Academy. They are homage to my sister Allie. They are Allie's kind of porno: people deprived of dignified postures by gravity instead of sex.p. 52I still quote Eugene Debs (1855-1926), late of Terre Haute, Indiana, five times the Socialist Party's candidate for President, in every speech: "While there is a lower class I am in it, while there is a criminal element I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free." In recent years, I've found it prudent to say before quoting Debs that he is to be taken seriously. Otherwise many in the audience will start to laugh. They are being nice, not mean, knowing I like to be funny. But it is also a sign of these times that such a moving echo of the Sermon on the Mount can be perceived as outdated, wholly discredited horsecrap. Which it is not.p. 62I got a good letter today, Friday, August 23rd, 1996, from a young stranger named Jeff Mihalich, one would guess of Serb or Croat descent, who is majoring in physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana. Jeff says he enjoyed his physics course in high school, and got top grades, but "ever since I have had physics at the university I have had much trouble with it. This was a huge blow to me because I was used to doing well in school. I thought there was nothing I couldn't do if I just wanted it bad enough." My reply will go like this: "You might want to read the picaresque novel The Adventures of Angle March by Saul Bellow. The epiphany at the end, as I recall, is that we shouldn't be seeking harrowing challenges, but rather tasks we find natural and interesting, tasks we were apparently born to perform. "As for tthe charms of physics: Two of the most entertaining subjects taught in high school or college are mechanics and optics. Beyond these playful disciplines, however, lie mind games as dependent on native talent as playing the French horn or chess. "Of native talent itself I say in speeches: 'If you go to a big city, and a university is a big city, you are bound to run into Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Stay home, stay home.' " To put it another way: No matter what a young person thinks he or she is really hot stuff at doing, he or she is sooner or later going to run into somebody in the same field who will cut him or her a new asshole, so to speak. A boyhood friend of mine, William H. C. "Skip" Failey, who died four months ago and is up in Heaven now, had good reason when a high school sophomore to think of himself as unbeatable at Ping-Pong. I am no slouch at Ping-Pong myself, but I wouldn't play against Skip. He put so much spin on his serve that no matter how I tried to return it, I already knew it would go up my nose or out the window or back to the factory, anywhere but on the table. When Skip was a junior, though, he played a classmate of ours, Roger Downs. Skip said afterward, "Roger cut me a new asshole."p.64I define a saint as a person who behaves decently in an indecent society.p.70I met the author Dick Francis at the Kentucky Derby years ago. I knew he had been a champion rider in steeplechases. I said he was a bigger man than I had expected. He replied that it took a big man to "hold a horse together" in a steeplechase. This image of his remained in the forefront of my memory so long, I think, because life itself can seem a lot like that: a matter of holding one's self-respect together, instead of a horse, as one's self-respect is expected to hurdle fences and hedges and water. My dear thirteen-year-old daughter Lily, having become a pretty adolescent, appears to me, as do most American adolescents, to be holding her self-respect together the best she can in a really scary steeplechase.p. 88Not merely the club and the household staff at Xanadu, and the chapters of Alcoholics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous, which met in the ballroom there, and the battered women and children and grandparents who had found shelter there, were grateful for his healing and encouraging mantra, which made bad times a coma: You were sick, but now you 're well again, and there's work to do. The whole world was.p. 96I got a sappy letter from a woman a while back. She knew I was sappy, too, which is to say a northern Democrat. She was pregnant, and she wanted to know if it was a mistake to bring an innocent little baby into a world this bad.I replied that what made being alive almost worthwhile for me was the saints I met, people behaving unselfishly and capably. They turned up in the most unexpected places. Perhaps you, dear reader, are or can become a saint for her sweet child to meet. I believe in original sin. I also believe in original virtue. Look around!p. 101I picked two points of light maybe ten feet apart. One was Polaris. I have no idea what the other one was. For all I knew, it was Puke, Trout's star the size of a BB. "Do they twinkle?" he said. "Yes they do," I said. "Promise?" he said. "Cross my heart," I said. "Excellent! Ting-a-ling!" he said. "Now then: Whatever heavenly bodies those two glints represent, it is certain that the Universe has become so rarefied that for light to go from one to the other would take thousands or millions of years. Ting-a-ling? But I now ask you to look precisely at one, and then precisely at the other." "OK," I said, "I did it." "It took a second, do you think?" he said. "No more," I said. "Even if you'd taken an hour," he said, "something would have passed between where those two heavenly bodies used to be, at, conservatively speaking, a million times the speed of light." "What was it?" I said. "Your awareness," he said. "That is a new quality in the Universe, which exists only because there are human beings. Physicists must from now on, when pondering the secrets of the Cosmos, factor in not only energy and matter and time, but something very new and beautiful, which is human awareness." Trout paused, ensuring with the ball of his left thumb that his upper dental plate would not slip when he said his last words to us that enchanted evening. All was well with his teeth. This was his finale: "I have thought of a better word than awareness," he said. "Let us call it soul." He paused. "Ting-a-ling?" he said.p. 104read more
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Mr. Vonnegut has delved into the territory of the cranky old man.read more
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I just found this incredibly boring.read more
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This novel is sort of a mosaic made from fragments of Vonnegut's autobiography, and fragments of his alter-ego Trout's biography. In the forward, Vonnegut mentioned he'd had writers block, and mixing fragments of Trout's story with his story was the only way he could get the novel to work.

I'm not sure it does. Sure, it's neat how fragments of the novel loop back on each other - like the time quake loops time back on itself. And yes, it's sad that Vonnegut acknowledged the end of his career and life was fast approaching.

Yet, in many ways it still reads like a collection of vignettes rather than a novel. I'm seeing pieces of tile, not the mosaic as a whole. And that mosaic isn't picturing anything I haven't already seen in his other novels - and it was better crafted there.read more
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i just finished this this book. i think that vonnegut is hilarious. this book made me think and wonder why he made this book. it makes me sad that he has passed away : ( this book did confuse me a bit not being able to really follow the time quakes. but still an interesting book. i loved it
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Paper-thin plot, but interesting enough in its own mostly-autobiographical way. Poignant and beautiful at times, but Mr. Vonnegut mostly just comes across as curmudgeonly old man. But then I guess he was at this point.
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So this was a book club book that caused a lot of disagreement. Between Vonnegut fans and Vonnegut rookies, we couldn't decide whether the loose and ramshackle structure was playful, intentional, or just plain rambling. For a short and digressive book there are a lot of ideas about time and life, painful digs into the past and a wise (or at least resigned) acceptance of the simple pleasures and pains that life brings with it.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The premise is brilliant: Once upon a time the universe decided to rewind things ten years. Everyone has to relive the previous ten years over again. Some are put back in prison. Others are brought back to life. Everyone realizes rather quickly that they can't do anything to alter things. They relive an entire decade as slaves to their own former choices.Things get interesting when they re-approach the 10 year mark where the universe decided to do grand rewind. After living ten years on auto-pilot, people don't know what to do with free will!Unfortunately, the actual book doesn't live up to the brilliance of the plot. Vonnegut's meandering random style—which in other works is unique and endearing—is too scattered here. There are moments of brilliance but, in the end, too much confusion.Ting-a-ling!
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
"Later work" often means "lesser work," but not in Vonnegut's case. Timequake reminded me of every reason I love Vonnegut. It was funny and sad, and occasionally bordered on mind-blowing. The passages about writing make it particularly enjoyable for those who like to write.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Vonnegut would probably describe himself as a likeable old fart. This, his self-proclaimed last novel, was not so endearing. I wondered why, if the world had turned so sour on him, he wanted to tell everyone about it.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Freakin' amazing! If you hate people you need to read this book. Seriously. It will make you hate them more. And enjoy your hatred more. Wow. Seriously. Wow.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
My reading of this book came almost exclusively by accident -- from my father's generosity in buying it for me to my inexplicable need to pick it up just as I was to go to sleep last night. Needless to say, as I've read it in less than 24 hours, it was a very happy accident.This is a different breed of Vonnegut, a Vonnegut that is as funny as he's ever been, but more caustic too. In salvaging a failed novel by interspersing its summation with ruminations on his life and characters, Vonnegut has created a living, breathing memorial to himself that's filled with the kind of humor, pathos, satire, scathing commentary, and pithy wisdom we've come to expect.This is a battle-hardened Vonnegut, an angry but wizened Vonnegut, and it's among the very best Vonnegut there is.
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More like a biography. Not that funny. Repitious. No story, just babbling.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Only KV's '07Apr death made me aware that I had missed this last "novel" of his. Autobographical snippets and points of personal philosophy outweigh the fictional element of a ten-year time "rerun" during which (the illusion of?) free will is inoperative. But the style is as pleasingly disjointed as earlier Vonnegut, and Kilgore Trout is heavily involved -- what more can be asked for?
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Quotes"All I do with short story ideas now is rough them out, credit them to Kilgore Trout, and put them in a novel." p. 30"When the bad sister was a young woman, she and the nuts worked up designs for television cameras and transmitters and receivers. Then she got money from her very rich mom to manufacture and market these satanic devices, which made imaginations redundant. They were instantly popular because the shows were so attractive and no thinking was involved. She made a lot of money, but what really pleased her was that her two sisters were starting to feel like something the cat drug in. Young Booboolings didn't see any point in developing imaginations anymore, since all they had to do was turn on a switch and see all kinds of jazzy shit. They would look at a printed page or a painting and wonder how anybody could have gotten his or her rocks off looking at things that simple and dead." p. 35p. 31"The timequake of 2001 was a cosmic charley horse in the sinews of Destiny. At what was in New York City 2:27 p.m. on February 13th of that year, the Universe suffered a crisis in self-confidence. Should it go on expanding indefinitely? What was the point? "It fibrillated with indecision. Maybe it should have a family reunion back where it all began, and then make a great big BANG again. "It suddenly shrunk ten years. It zapped me and everybody else back to February 17th, 1991, what was for me 7:51 a.m., and a line outside a blood bank in San Diego, California. "For reasons best known to itself, though, the Universe canceled the family reunion, for the nonce at least. It resumed expansion. Which faction, if any, cast the deciding votes on whether to expand or shrink, I cannot say. Despite my having lived for eighty-four years, or ninety-four, if you want to count the rerun, many questions, about the Universe remain for me unanswered. It was free will that did all the damage. The timequake and its aftershocks didn't map as much as a single strand in a spider's web, unless some other force had snapped that strand the first time through.p. 41Yes, and all the people falling down in Timequake One, and now in this book, are like "FUCK ART!" spray-painted across the steel front door of the Academy. They are homage to my sister Allie. They are Allie's kind of porno: people deprived of dignified postures by gravity instead of sex.p. 52I still quote Eugene Debs (1855-1926), late of Terre Haute, Indiana, five times the Socialist Party's candidate for President, in every speech: "While there is a lower class I am in it, while there is a criminal element I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free." In recent years, I've found it prudent to say before quoting Debs that he is to be taken seriously. Otherwise many in the audience will start to laugh. They are being nice, not mean, knowing I like to be funny. But it is also a sign of these times that such a moving echo of the Sermon on the Mount can be perceived as outdated, wholly discredited horsecrap. Which it is not.p. 62I got a good letter today, Friday, August 23rd, 1996, from a young stranger named Jeff Mihalich, one would guess of Serb or Croat descent, who is majoring in physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana. Jeff says he enjoyed his physics course in high school, and got top grades, but "ever since I have had physics at the university I have had much trouble with it. This was a huge blow to me because I was used to doing well in school. I thought there was nothing I couldn't do if I just wanted it bad enough." My reply will go like this: "You might want to read the picaresque novel The Adventures of Angle March by Saul Bellow. The epiphany at the end, as I recall, is that we shouldn't be seeking harrowing challenges, but rather tasks we find natural and interesting, tasks we were apparently born to perform. "As for tthe charms of physics: Two of the most entertaining subjects taught in high school or college are mechanics and optics. Beyond these playful disciplines, however, lie mind games as dependent on native talent as playing the French horn or chess. "Of native talent itself I say in speeches: 'If you go to a big city, and a university is a big city, you are bound to run into Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Stay home, stay home.' " To put it another way: No matter what a young person thinks he or she is really hot stuff at doing, he or she is sooner or later going to run into somebody in the same field who will cut him or her a new asshole, so to speak. A boyhood friend of mine, William H. C. "Skip" Failey, who died four months ago and is up in Heaven now, had good reason when a high school sophomore to think of himself as unbeatable at Ping-Pong. I am no slouch at Ping-Pong myself, but I wouldn't play against Skip. He put so much spin on his serve that no matter how I tried to return it, I already knew it would go up my nose or out the window or back to the factory, anywhere but on the table. When Skip was a junior, though, he played a classmate of ours, Roger Downs. Skip said afterward, "Roger cut me a new asshole."p.64I define a saint as a person who behaves decently in an indecent society.p.70I met the author Dick Francis at the Kentucky Derby years ago. I knew he had been a champion rider in steeplechases. I said he was a bigger man than I had expected. He replied that it took a big man to "hold a horse together" in a steeplechase. This image of his remained in the forefront of my memory so long, I think, because life itself can seem a lot like that: a matter of holding one's self-respect together, instead of a horse, as one's self-respect is expected to hurdle fences and hedges and water. My dear thirteen-year-old daughter Lily, having become a pretty adolescent, appears to me, as do most American adolescents, to be holding her self-respect together the best she can in a really scary steeplechase.p. 88Not merely the club and the household staff at Xanadu, and the chapters of Alcoholics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous, which met in the ballroom there, and the battered women and children and grandparents who had found shelter there, were grateful for his healing and encouraging mantra, which made bad times a coma: You were sick, but now you 're well again, and there's work to do. The whole world was.p. 96I got a sappy letter from a woman a while back. She knew I was sappy, too, which is to say a northern Democrat. She was pregnant, and she wanted to know if it was a mistake to bring an innocent little baby into a world this bad.I replied that what made being alive almost worthwhile for me was the saints I met, people behaving unselfishly and capably. They turned up in the most unexpected places. Perhaps you, dear reader, are or can become a saint for her sweet child to meet. I believe in original sin. I also believe in original virtue. Look around!p. 101I picked two points of light maybe ten feet apart. One was Polaris. I have no idea what the other one was. For all I knew, it was Puke, Trout's star the size of a BB. "Do they twinkle?" he said. "Yes they do," I said. "Promise?" he said. "Cross my heart," I said. "Excellent! Ting-a-ling!" he said. "Now then: Whatever heavenly bodies those two glints represent, it is certain that the Universe has become so rarefied that for light to go from one to the other would take thousands or millions of years. Ting-a-ling? But I now ask you to look precisely at one, and then precisely at the other." "OK," I said, "I did it." "It took a second, do you think?" he said. "No more," I said. "Even if you'd taken an hour," he said, "something would have passed between where those two heavenly bodies used to be, at, conservatively speaking, a million times the speed of light." "What was it?" I said. "Your awareness," he said. "That is a new quality in the Universe, which exists only because there are human beings. Physicists must from now on, when pondering the secrets of the Cosmos, factor in not only energy and matter and time, but something very new and beautiful, which is human awareness." Trout paused, ensuring with the ball of his left thumb that his upper dental plate would not slip when he said his last words to us that enchanted evening. All was well with his teeth. This was his finale: "I have thought of a better word than awareness," he said. "Let us call it soul." He paused. "Ting-a-ling?" he said.p. 104
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Mr. Vonnegut has delved into the territory of the cranky old man.
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I just found this incredibly boring.
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This novel is sort of a mosaic made from fragments of Vonnegut's autobiography, and fragments of his alter-ego Trout's biography. In the forward, Vonnegut mentioned he'd had writers block, and mixing fragments of Trout's story with his story was the only way he could get the novel to work.

I'm not sure it does. Sure, it's neat how fragments of the novel loop back on each other - like the time quake loops time back on itself. And yes, it's sad that Vonnegut acknowledged the end of his career and life was fast approaching.

Yet, in many ways it still reads like a collection of vignettes rather than a novel. I'm seeing pieces of tile, not the mosaic as a whole. And that mosaic isn't picturing anything I haven't already seen in his other novels - and it was better crafted there.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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