Thursday, March 9, 2006

Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Title: Cat's Cradle
Author: Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Rating: Great!

I haven't read much Vonnegut.

No. Let me try that again.

I haven't read enough Vonnegut.

In fact, if I've read anything other than Cat's Cradle, it's been so long that I honestly don't remember it. There might have been some other works by him back in high school, but if so, I've lost them.

And that's too bad, really, since I like Cat's Cradle a lot. Clearly others do as well, since the copy I have says it was originally published in in 1963 and the specific edition I have is the 32nd printing which was released back in May of 1974.

As regular readers of this forum (and my web site) may have picked up, I have no real use for religion. If it helps others that's fine, so long as they don't try to force it down my throat. Cat's Cradle is an interesting work to me because of its complicated view of religion. And I am a cynic in this area, so to get me to ponder it is saying something.

The story line is a fairly light hearted tale of the end of the world. The characters are interesting and funny, if a bit flat. (That flatness is deliberate, I think, and it works here.) In my opinion, the story of and behind the religion of Bokonism running through the book is where the writer really put his thought.

A religion that admits it is a pack of lies. Interesting. Vonnegut really makes you think here, and I suspect this book could support both sides of the "is religion a good thing?" question.

I am reminded of something I heard once, years ago. It was claimed that a religion - Hinduism, I seem to recall - had within it's doctrine the possibility that the gods were created by man. That has always resonated with me. Well, that and some words on the album cover of Aqualung by Jethro Tull. (I'll leave that research to the interested reader.)

In any event, if you haven't read Cat's Cradle I highly recommend it. It's engaging, varying from laugh-out-loud to sit-and-ponder as needed. Vonnegut gets it right.