Cat’s Cradle

by Kurt Vonnegut

Cat's Cradle CoverI think this has to be some kind of record for me. Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five kept me so enthralled that it took me merely two days to get through, while Cat’s Cradle was easily finished in one. Yes, yes, both are short and funny, which makes the reading easy, but, beneath that, they both have a juicy interior. This time, Vonnegut maturely and subtly explores the ludicrous nature and human necessity of religion, as well as the seemingly symbiotic relationship between human progress and self-destruction.

Vonnegut has no respect for a traditional mystery. Cat’s Cradle, much like other Vonnegut stories I’ve read, contains a significant plot point that would constitute a major twist in what we’ll call a normal story, one which Vonnegut casually gives away early on in the novel. Seemingly counterintuitive, what the author sacrifices in surprise he makes up immensely in tension; the reader learns early on what will happen, but the tortuous route the author takes in getting there notches up the suspense in ways that a traditional story wouldn’t have access to, at least on a first read-through. In this way, Vonnegut proves that the how and the why are much more interesting than the what, and I really believe that this remarkable storytelling method greatly adds to the richness of his tale.

Depressingly hilarious and inspirationally cynical, Cat’s Cradle was a joy to behold, and the icy finale caused my jaw to drop to the floor, much to the apparent laughter of some nearby pre-teens, bless their little hearts.