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Told with deadpan humour and bitter irony, Kurt Vonnegut s cult tale of global destruction preys on our deepest fears of witnessing Armageddon and, worse still, surviving it Dr Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding fathers of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to the world For he s the inventor of ice nine , a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet The search for its whereabouts leads to Hoenikker s three ecentric children, to a crazed dictator in the Caribbean, to madness Felix Hoenikker s Death Wish comes true when his last, fatal gift to humankind brings about the end, that for all of us, is nigh I stopped at page 175 and I have NEVER done that I never give up on books I start This book made me re think that practice Normally, even if I do not like a book, I can find something about it to keep me going but with Cat s Cradle I just had to quit I need to feel something curiousity, irritation, sadness, happiness, love, desire, anger, escapism, like I am learning something new, that I need the lesson this book is offering whatever I need to connect to the book, the story, the chara I stopped at page 175 and I have NEVER done that I never give up on books I start This book made me re think that practice Normally, even if I do not like a book, I can find something about it to keep me going but with Cat s Cradle I just had to quit I need to feel something curiousity, irritation, sadness, happiness, love, desire, anger, escapism, like I am learning something new, that I need the lesson this book is offering whatever I need to connect to the book, the story, the characters in some way With this book I felt nothing, nada, eh It was easy reading for sure but it seemed almost like it was a joke It reminded me of my junior high schools days when the teacher asked us to write stories and read them to the class You wrote hollow silly things that you thought sounded clever and exciting and then years later when you come across the story in a box of keepsakes you laugh at how stilted and basic it was I know, Vonnegut is suppose to be speaking to the issues of religion, science, humanity with irony and humour lots of people love this book I did not care about any of it, not even the Ice Nine that probably destroyed the world I don t know because I didn t finish the book I decided that to continue would be a waste of life essence The good thing I can say about this experience is that it made me realize that I don t have to finish a book This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here Most people have read Cat s Cradle, so I won t bother to try and hide spoilers Did you say you hadn t read it Well, what are you waiting for This isn t Ulysses, you know, it s short and funny So, now that it s just us people who know the book, I want to say why I disagree with the criticism you often see, that it s too fragmentary On the contrary, I think it s very focused, and makes its point with near perfect economy and wit There are two obvious themes One is how the irresponsible use Most people have read Cat s Cradle, so I won t bother to try and hide spoilers Did you say you hadn t read it Well, what are you waiting for This isn t Ulysses, you know, it s short and funny So, now that it s just us people who know the book, I want to say why I disagree with the criticism you often see, that it s too fragmentary On the contrary, I think it s very focused, and makes its point with near perfect economy and wit There are two obvious themes One is how the irresponsible use of science to construct everdeadly weapons is probably going to end up destroying the whole world The other is a wonderfully crazy take on religion Each of these themes is satisfying in its own right what s less clear is that they have anything to do with each other Let s look at the first theme Vonnegut s scarily plausible thesis is that it won t be a question of some madman destroying the world on purpose I love General Jack T Ripper in Doctor Strangelove, the obvious movie parallel to this book, but I find him somehow less convincing than the series of deranged, helplessly incompetent people in Cat s Cradle Felix Hoenikker, an obvious Asperger s type, invents Ice 9 in response to a casual question from the US military His three damaged children get hold of the secret, and exploit it for their own petty ends Plain, charmless Angela sells it to the Americans in exchange for a playboy husband Newt, the midget, gives it to the Soviets for a dirty weekend on Cape Cod with a tiny Russian dancer and, fatally, humorless Franklin sells it to Papa Monzano, who makes him a Major General in the largely imaginary army of San Lorenzo, a bankrupt state, I believe, loosely based on Haiti and the Dominican Republic After that, things just proceed by themselves nothing works in San Lorenzo, so why would you be able to successfully guard a doomsday device And, sure enough, it gets used completely by accident.The second theme is presented through Bokononism, a kind of Caribbean version of Christianity, and surely the best fictional religion ever devised Is there any person here who s never tried boku maru Unfortunately, in real life it doesn t have the effect described in the book Pity Bokononism is the one thing that makes life worthwhile for Papa s miserable subjects Officially, the religion is outlawed in practice, everyone is a Bokononist, which makes their lives rich and meaningful Everything about the religion turns out to be a lie, and there is even a technical term, foma, for the lies that make up its substance None the less, Vonnegut succeeds admirably in showing what a good religion it is The scene where Dr Schlichter von Koenigswald reads the Bokonist last rites to the dying Papa Monzano is funny, but also moving I love the line Nice going, God , which expresses that particular sentiment with unusual clarity and feeling it s extremely respectful, while pretending to be the exact opposite.So, what is the connection between the two themes I think in fact that Vonnegut tells you straight out, but since he does it at the beginning a favorite ruse of crime writers , you don t quite notice it He introduces Bokononism, and recounts its creation myth, which is absurd even by the standards of this magic realist genre Then he cheerfully tells you that Bokonon himself admits that it s all lies Finally, he comments, in one of his better known quotes Anyone unable to understand how a useful religion can be founded on lies will not understand this book either As already noted, Bokonon s wise lies in fact make an excellent religion.Here s what I think he means by this The potential destruction of all life on Earth isn t a very amusing subject It s so horrifying that you can hardly think about it at all But Vonnegut manages to present most of the book as a comedy, so that you are able to think about it, which we desperately need to do before it s all too late By making it funny, he is formally lying to us, but these lies areuseful to us than the truth we re in pretty much the same situation as the San Lorenzans, who couldn t survive without their mendacious religion People during the Cold War were, with good reason, scared shitless that the world was going to end soon in a nuclear holocaust We came terrifyingly close during the Cuba Missile Crisis As Christopher Hitchens says, do you remember where you were the day JFK nearly killed all of us There were many books and movies intended to help people relate to what was going on Some of them just presented the threat straight up, in as realistic a way as they could manage the version I like most is Shute s On the Beach But I would say that the mirror reversed ones, like Cat s Cradle and Doctor Strangelove, were better It s amazing how powerful a weapon humor is I feel they didto help persuade us not to blow ourselves up We need these people badly if we re going to stay sane Can someone point me to a new Vonnegut, who knows how to make us laugh at global warming and the financial meltdown I d rather like to read him There are two voices inside my head Let s call them Lore and Enzo At the moment L E are quarreling on Cat s Cradle L Oh come on This book is wonderful Perhaps it s the best novel Vonnegut has ever written.E Are you kidding me Have you read the whole of it L Of course I ve read it from its first word to the very last one.E And haven t you noticed anything strange L What are you talking about E I mean, you know, it s a discontinuous novel I can t deny it has a great beginning, There are two voices inside my head Let s call them Lore and Enzo At the moment L E are quarreling on Cat s Cradle L Oh come on This book is wonderful Perhaps it s the best novel Vonnegut has ever written.E Are you kidding me Have you read the whole of it L Of course I ve read it from its first word to the very last one.E And haven t you noticed anything strange L What are you talking about E I mean, you know, it s a discontinuous novel I can t deny it has a great beginning, but it gradually loses its brightness reaching the end.L What Are you telling me you haven t appreciated the marvellous description of San Lorenzo island and so on E No, no The Banana Republic part is okbut look at the plot L What s wrong with the plot E Well..at first the narrator wants to write a book about this eccentric scientist who has planned the atomic bomb.L Yeah Go on.E And then he decides to interview one of the scientist sons But as soon as he meets Frank Hoenikker in San Lorenzo he seems to lose all his interest for him.L I disagree Have you forgotten Ice Nine E No, butL And what about Bokononism You can t deny that the concept and the teachings of this fake religion link every single chapter of the novel You can t say it s discontinuous while everything in it is so closely knit E That s a point of view Besides I haven t liked the structure of the novel More than one hundred chapters..L They re not chapters they relike episodes.E MmmhL I think you re not in my karass.E Karass Actually all that you join are granfalloons.L Foma Lies A pack of foma Shut up voices I need a boko maru right now Is there anyone who wants to share the soles of her feet Busy, busy, busy I ve read this book four times It s better than the Bible, because unlike the Bible, this book knows it s fiction.