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Same ISBN as this Cat’s Cradle is Kurt Vonnegut’s satirical commentary on modern man and his madness An apocalyptic tale of this planet’s ultimate fate it features a midget as the protagonist a complete original theology created by a calypso singer and a vision of the future that is at once blackly fatalistic and hilariously funny A book that left an indelible mark on an entire generation of readers Cat’s Cradle is one of the twentieth century’s most important works—and Vonnegut at his very best


10 thoughts on “Cat's Cradle

  1. says:

    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 ever deadly 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 uestion 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 uestion 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 accidentThe 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 oppositeSo 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 uite 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 uotes 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 religionHere'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 are useful 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 did to 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


  2. says:

    There are two voices inside my head Let's call them Lore and Enzo At the moment L E are uarreling on Cat's Cradle L Oh come on This book is wonderful Perhaps it's the best novel Vonnegut has ever writtenE 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 oneE 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 endL 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 plotL What's wrong with the plot? E Wellat first the narrator wants to write a book about this eccentric scientist who has planned the atomic bombL Yeah Go onE 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 himL 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 knitE That's a point of view Besides I haven't liked the structure of the novel More than one hundred chaptersL They're not chapters they're like episodesE MmmhL I think you're not in my karassE Karass? Actually all that you join are granfalloonsL Foma Lies A pack of fomaShut up voices I need a boko maru right now Is there anyone who wants to share the soles of her feet? Busy busy busy


  3. says:

    I've read this book four times It's better than the Bible because unlike the Bible this book knows it's fiction


  4. says:

    Progress scientific revolution revolution number nine ice nine Science is neutral and it may serve evil as readily as goodAfter the thing went off after it was a sure thing that America could wipe out a city with just one bomb a scientist turned to Father and said ‘Science has now known sin’ And do you know what Father said? He said ‘What is sin?’Some invent powerful explosives and some invent new religions and it is hard to say which invention is dangerousWell when it became evident that no governmental or economic reform was going to make the people much less miserable the religion became the one real instrument of hope Truth was the enemy of the people because the truth was so terrible so Bokonon made it his business to provide the people with better and better liesThere is a little ugly dystopia hidden within every big beautiful utopia


  5. says:

    there are probably as many reviews of Cat's Cradle as there are stars in the sky so no doubt there's little i can add that's of any value who cares? i love hearing myself talk so let's go for it well this is harder than i thought it's as easy as describing why i love my favorite pillow or threadbare t shirt or why i like rainy days as much as sunny days okay here goes the inventiveness of Cat's Cradle and its bleak absurd humor was incredibly eye opening to me in high school and it practically provided a template for how i looked at things in college it was a joy to return to particularly after the tedious nonsense foisted upon me in various classes well in time i grew to love all the tedious nonsense foisted upon me but that was years later and besides the point after college it defined the outlook of almost everyone i knew around me and i remember bothering folks to read it so that they could understand some of my references or so that they could read their own worldview in book form when i said things like impaled on a giant hook or i want to read your index folks had no clue about what i was talking about i guess that's why i eventually stopped saying those phrasesand back to the book Cat's Cradle it has warmth and anger and wisdom and an almost naive kind of brashness at times i love that combo favorite character cynical young Philip Castle do gooder sarcastic asshole painter owner of a hotel that scorns snobs and is therefore pretty empty i love you Philip Castle my second fictional crush slash look i see myself type character Holden Caulfield came first and Donnie Darko eventually replaced you but you were the dreamiest


  6. says:

    Vonnegut's best? Many will say that it is and who am I to disagree It does include all the best elements of Vonnegut in his genius humor dark and subtle and sometimes not subtle at all irreverence absurdity blended with realism to create a surrealistic setting where the reader is cautiously intrigued by whatever is going on And the messages and themes of love relationships responsibility both internally and globally Also like several of his endearing works this one remains thought provoking years after being read a uasi morality play that the reader will revisit often and sometimes with little coaxing 2018 addendum it is a testament to great literature that a reader recalls the work years later and this is a book about which I freuently think The great takeaway from this one is not so much ice nine although that is certainly memorable but Bokonon and most specifically the beautiful Mona A treatise on Bokononism and its effect on SF since both in its facial aspect as well as Vonnegut's use as a satire on religion could and should be explored 2019 re readThis was a bright star on my 2019 Vonnegut re reading EXTRAVAGANZA and it did not disappoint I first read this back in HS and several times in college and in the dark days before GoodReads Back then I thought it was hilarious and outrageousWhile I still agree that it is one of his most outrageous works My vote for top of that list though is Slapstick and it is still funny from my mid century vantage I know see that in some ways this is his most scathingly cynical and the humor is a way of cutting the toxicity like Anthony Burgess’ use of the language Nadsat to minimize the ultra violence into a palatable offering Vonnegut was 41 when this was published and I am now 50John is a disaffected but still naïve writer whose loss of his cat John Wick? triggers his response to chronicle the human side of the creation of the atomic bomb Setting out to interview the family of Nobel prize winning physicist Felix Hoenikker a principle researcher in that DYNAMITE Creation John is led on a journey that winds up on the Caribbean island of San Lorenzo and a discovery of the playfully made up religion of Bokononism and also the end of the worldFelix’ creation of ICE NINE and of his absent minded professor innocence is a surgical tool in Vonnegut’s able social commentary to discuss the deadly combination of naïve research and military purposeSpeaking of Burgess and his made up language Vonnegut here tries his hand at an expansive dictionary with some words he would later use to describe his 1974 anthology Wampeters Foma Granfalloons


  7. says:

    427 Cat’s Cradle Kurt VonnegutCat's Cradle is the fourth novel by American writer Kurt Vonnegut first published in 1963 It 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 1947 the University of Chicago awarded Vonnegut his master's degree in anthropology in 1971 for Cat's Cradle At the opening of the book the narrator an everyman named John but calling himself Jonah describes a time when he was planning to write a book about what important Americans did on the day Hiroshima was bombed While researching this topic John becomes involved with the children of Felix Hoenikker a Nobel laureate physicist who helped develop the atomic bomb John travels to Ilium New York to interview the Hoenikker children and others for his book گهواره گربه کورت ونه‌ گات جونیور، انتشاراتیها نشر افق، ثالث؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش بیست و دوم ماه می سال 2011 میلادیعنوان گهواره گربه؛ نویسنده کورت ونه‌ گات جونیور، مترجم علی اصغر بهرامی؛ تهران، نشر افق، 1383؛ در 406 ص؛ چاپ دوم 1386؛ چاپ سوم 1392؛ چاپ چهارم 1394؛ شابک 9789643691615؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان امریکایی سده 20 معنوان گهواره گربه؛ نویسنده کورت ونه‌ گات، مترجمها مهتاب کلانتری؛ منصوره وفایی؛ تهران، ثالث، 1383؛ در 375 ص؛ شابک 9643800385؛ رمان «گهواره گربه»، چهارمین اثر نویسنده ی آمریکایی «کورت ونه‌ گات» است، که نخستین بار در سال 1963 میلادی، چاپ شده است ایشان در این کتاب، در باره ی علم، تکنولوژی، و مذهب، بحث می‌کنند، و مسابقه ی تسلیحاتی، و بسیاری از مفاهیم جدی دیگر را، به سخره می‌گیرند عنوان کتاب، از بازی کودکانه ­ای گرفته شده، که با نخی بازی می‌کنند؛ که دو سرش گره خورده، و بین انگشتان دو نفر، دست به دست می‌شود در صفحات نخستین رمان، «فلیکس هوینکر»، مخترع فرضی «بمب اتم» را می‌یابیم، که درست، در لحظه ی افتادن، یا پرتاب بمب، مشغول همین بازی ست «گهواره گربه»، در سال 1964 میلادی، کاندیدای دریافت جایزه ی «هوگو»، برای بهترین رمان، بوده است ا شربیانی


  8. says:

    Another review in the KISS series Keep It Short SteveIn Anne Fadiman’s superb book about books called Ex Libris she divides readers into two categories those who keep their books in pristine condition courtly lovers and those who delight in marginalia carnal lovers I started out as one of the former conditioned no doubt by fear of library fines but became one of the latter Cat’s Cradle was my first prurient experience dating back to high school Part of the reason was that I snagged my copy at a garage sale for a dime – cheap even then But the real motivation was to highlight this great little rhyme Tiger got to hunt bird got to fly;Man got to sit and wonder 'why why why?'Tiger got to sleep bird got to land;Man got to tell himself he understand That one deserved stars a yellow marker and the granddaddy of all desecrations – a dog ear I liked how it was framed as such a natural conclusion to the activity of thinking We tell ourselves that our efforts to understand have paid off If I’m honest I don’t recall much of the book’s premise I remember thinking Vonnegut was one of those cool sort of counter cultural writers who wielded his satirical axe well He may have been a bit darker than Tom Robbins and less playful with his words but he was similarly entertaining incisive and free wheeling The book tracks the unusual offspring of the man who invented the A bomb They possess a substance called ice nine that can make water freeze at room temperatures And you can imagine what might happen if it fell into the wrong hands The Russians and Americans procured some as did the dictator of a secluded Caribbean island where a religion called Bokononism is practiced despite being illegal and according to Bokonon himself based on lies Still anything that sells “living by the harmless untruths that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy” will have its appealVonnegut would poke fun at religion politics and just about any other human institution where our base natures hide in some gussied up form And he may well have had a point If I remember this cautionary tale correctly a follow up poem of my own might apply Monkey got to play fish got to swim;Man got to risk his life to some psycho’s whimMonkey got to doze fish got to coast;Man got to rest assured he won’t become a ghost And it may give us pause


  9. says:

    Hasty and jokey Cat's Cradle begins as a satire about a journalist's attempt to investigate the life of one of the creators of the atomic bomb but ends as a bleak allegory about the annihilation of life on earth Vonnegut's irreverent wit and straightforward prose make his work a useful gateway to adult fiction for teens and this novel ranks amongst his best Adults who never encountered Vonnegut's books during their youth by contrast might find the book's pessimism or its hyper episodic structure to be a bit tedious


  10. says:

    I loved this book It turned out to be one of those easy to read stories that leave you thinking and thinking and thinking The science fiction aspect of the plot is not important at all It is the impact of power knowledge and ritual on every single individual that made me want to restart reading it as soon as I finished I absolutely adore the creation of Bokononism and the development of a new language to suit the needs of the religion in the making Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam experiments with the same kind of post apocalyptic scenario and the never ending uestion of what humanity needs to survive Of course Vonnegut's vision is a lot darker than Atwood's Humanity wiped out completely on a whim no hope of reproducing our species at all the only uestion remaining is how to die and what symbol to carry in your hand to show the hated and hating creator aboveThe experience of being trapped in Dresden as an American prisoner of war during the bombing and destruction of the city might have formed the sense of absurdity that Vonnegut displays in his vision of mankindTo put it in Bokononist words the cruel paradox of the heartbreaking necessity of lying about reality combined with the heartbreaking impossibility of lying about it is at the center of the book Foma