Thursday, April 12, 2007

So it goes.

I had been thinking I'd write something about what I'd been reading lately (short answer: not much), but instead I find myself writing about something I read a long time ago.

I was in 10th grade when I picked up Cat's Cradle. I had read a lot as a kid, but it was mostly young children's books, sports books, Stephen King, and a little bit of Robert Heinlein. Vonnegut was one of the first "serious authors" I ever picked up just for fun.

You know how the things you experience at a young age will always stay with you in a way that things you experience as an adult tend to come and go without leaving quite as deep a mark, because you're already in some sense fully-formed? Because of that feeling, I know that no book will ever be as influential in my life as Cat's Cradle has been.

I can't adequately summarize the reasons why that's true, but I know that it has something to do with cynicism, absurdity, and learning (as the bumper stickers tell us) to "question authority". By reading about Bokononism, ice-nine, and all of the wampeters and granfalloons and foma out there, I learned how ugly and ridiculous the world could be--but also how full and rich and complex the world could be if you started looking behind the happy bullshit. I still think about granfalloons every time someone talks about patriotism and loving one's country, and I constantly go back and forth about whether foma are harmful, useful, or both.

I have re-read Cat's Cradle more than any other novel, and I expect to continue re-reading it every few years for the rest of my life. I've read many of Vonnegut's other novels, and they have all mattered to me to some extent (except, strangely, Slaughterhouse-Five, about which I never understood all the fuss), but those first 150 pages that I read will be the ones that stick with me always.

Also, the line "Whoever did write this doesn't know the first thing about Kurt Vonnegut," from Back to School kills me every time, even if it's totally ripped off from the Marshall MacLuhan bit in Annie Hall.

5 comments:

Julie said...

Cat's Cradle was my first Vonnegut novel too, but I have a particular sentimental attachment to Breakfast of Champions for many of the same reasons you describe. (I may save the story for my own blog, though.)

And vast numbers of us EEB geeks (that's "ecology, evolution, and behavior" to the rest of you) have the same fondness for Galapagos that God supposedly has for beetles.

Richard Mason said...

I wonder what the epitaph on Vonnegut's tombstone will be.

Some possibilities:

So It goes.

Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.

The only proof he needed for the existence of God was music.

I was the victim of a series of accidents... as are we all.

Jenny said...

Hey, Joe! It's Jenny Hanlin. I am trying to get in touch with you to let you know about a UHC reunion. Send me your email address and I will send you some details and a top-secret questionnaire (don't let on to Doc). Ryan says hello.

email: jennyhanlin@gmail.com

alex said...

There were a thousand remeron people.. The train was on a siding, with news of a freight evista wreck ahead.. Finally, Freud cialis established a direct connection between dreams and insanity, between the symbolic visions of our sleep and the symbolic actions of the mentally deranged.. Once ashore neurontin again, however, he began to prepare his breakfast with some haste.. Come on--let's go to fentanyl bed.. Watkinson, anything so that it is only a levothyroxine speech.. I am so used to water sinemet I didn't notice it.. Fifteen dollars, Uncle Billy informed zyprexa him, smoking one of Mr.. A man effexor that makes up music.. Worcester inserts an illustration in prevacid his text, is that any reason why Mr.. I meant their hctz children.. Smiley was a good butalbital deal surprised, and he was disgusted too, but he didn't have no idea what the matter was, of course.. The day before she had herself called out in rebuke to the cook (who, moreover, also appears in the dream): magnesium Behave yourself properly ; I don't know that --that is, I don't know this kind of behavior; I won't have it.. I think clonazepam you're whistlin' again.. If we had only thought of waiting till we could hear from Mrs. phentermine..

lipitor said...

black mold exposureblack mold symptoms of exposurewrought iron garden gatesiron garden gates find them herefine thin hair hairstylessearch hair styles for fine thin hairnight vision binocularsbuy night vision binocularslipitor reactionslipitor allergic reactionsluxury beach resort in the philippines

afordable beach resorts in the philippineshomeopathy for eczema.baby eczema.save big with great mineral makeup bargainsmineral makeup wholesalersprodam iphone Apple prodam iphone prahacect iphone manualmanual for P 168 iphonefero 52 binocularsnight vision Fero 52 binocularsThe best night vision binoculars here

night vision binoculars bargainsfree photo albums computer programsfree software to make photo albumsfree tax formsprintable tax forms for free craftmatic air bedcraftmatic air bed adjustable info hereboyd air bedboyd night air bed lowest pricefind air beds in wisconsinbest air beds in wisconsincloud air beds

best cloud inflatable air bedssealy air beds portableportables air bedsrv luggage racksaluminum made rv luggage racksair bed raisedbest form raised air bedsaircraft support equipmentsbest support equipments for aircraftsbed air informercialsbest informercials bed airmattress sized air beds

bestair bed mattress antique doorknobsantique doorknob identification tipsdvd player troubleshootingtroubleshooting with the dvd playerflat panel television lcd vs plasmaflat panel lcd television versus plasma pic the bestThe causes of economic recessionwhat are the causes of economic recessionadjustable bed air foam The best bed air foam

hoof prints antique equestrian printsantique hoof prints equestrian printsBuy air bedadjustablebuy the best adjustable air bedsair beds canadian storesCanadian stores for air beds

migraine causemigraine treatments floridaflorida headache clinicdrying dessicantair drying dessicantdessicant air dryerpediatric asthmaasthma specialistasthma children specialistcarpet cleaning dallas txcarpet cleaners dallascarpet cleaning dallas