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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

   
Author Topic: Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
LargeTuna
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I just read this book and loved it. I've never read any Vonnegut before and will deinately read some moare. (If anyone wants to give some suggestions where to start feel free) I was very confused by this book and it tooke me an entire week to read. Which is a long time for me. I did start to understand it by the end, and everything finnally started to make sense. The last lines of the book made me smile and Bokonism is cool.
To be honest I'm currently writing an essay about the book for school, and will probably not have a chance to use a computer much this week so i'm going to try and finish it tomorow.
It's an essay on the theme/setting, and i can do that all by myself, but in the rubric it asks me to Describe the major conflict. It's not the main point of the book report but I know i need to do it and I'm stumped. Is it theconflict over the Ice-nine? or is it simply the conflict over scientists using pure research when their developments could go towards weapons? Or is it the conflict of the narrator's journey (there are a few)

If you should choose to help me i would appreciate a post very soon. [Big Grin]
I understand though if you choose not to post because "some lazy kid isn't doing his own homework" but if you've ever read the book I would seriously appreciate a little input. This one little part of my essay is throwing me off badly. [Wall Bash]

Thanks, -LT [Hat]

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Dr Strangelove
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Not gonna help with the homework, but my personal favorite as far as Vonnegut goes is Player Piano, followed by Breakfast of Champions. I actually read Breakfast of Champions for the first time in a psychiatric ward, ironically enough.
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ClaudiaTherese
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LT, I think you could note in a paper that there are several conflicts (as you list above), but the driving element that ties together all of the simultaneous storylines is just one -- and I'd call that the major one. I can't guarantee that your instructor would agree, but it seems the best answer to me.

---

Edited to add: That is, if you list all the major and minor players, what conflict ties them all together? That would be the backbone of the book, in my opinion.

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LargeTuna
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Thanks Claudia, I think i'll just write about the multiple conflicts and try to do a good job bringing them together, [Big Grin]
I have a strong A right now in my Literature class so I'm not worried if she dissagrees about the conflict, i just had no idea on how to tackle that whole conflict question since to me anyway, it seemed like a pretty unconventional book.

And Dr. Strangelove, thanks for the book reccomendations. I have one friend who read the Slaugherhouse one, but he didn't like it that much, so i was gonna stay away from that one to start.

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Loki
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sirens of titan
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Frisco
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Slaughterhouse-Five was the first Vonnegut book I heard of (and tried to read), but it's not one of my favorites.

In fact, I didn't finish it the first time I started it--I just finished it yesterday. It was ok.

I love Galapagos and Welcome to the Monkey House (collection of short stories) in addition to Cat's Cradle. Those are my top 3 Vonnegut works.

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LargeTuna
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I ended up going with the ice-nine conflict as the main one, but included tha narrator's conflicts as important to the story.

I've only got one more page to write [Big Grin]
I'm kind of having fun writing a paper all night (or whenever i finish) I don't have to get up until 9:45 tomorow. life is good.

*edit: i just finished at 1:52. i'll site my sources in the morning before I drive to the dentist*

thanks to all!

[ February 15, 2010, 01:53 AM: Message edited by: LargeTuna ]

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Ron Lambert
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Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five (and also the movie that was based on it which starred Vallerie Perrine) was a little hard to follow, because the hero keeps jumping around in time, living segments of his life out of sequence. A large part of that story was Vonnegut's attempt to decry the fire-bombing of Dresden by the Allies in WWII. I still haven't figured out why the story wound up on the planet Jupiter. But I was left with the feeling that that some great triumph had occurred. At least it seemed to be a happy ending in the movie. Getting to live happily ever after with Vallerie Perrine would have to be a happy ending, I would think.

Vonnegut reminds me a little of Phillip K. Dick.

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Lisa
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Welcome to the Monkey House contains the short story "Harrison Bergeron". Definitely a must read.

The first Vonnegut I read was actually Slapstick, of all things. And it ranks among the oddest things I've ever read, but I totally recommend it.

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Teshi
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Ugh, I hate English classes (and rubrics) for this exact reason. So many books don't lend themselves well to requirements like this.

Usually, when asked to do this kind of thing, the idea is to pick something (something unifying or just one that you think is the most driving behind the book) and then defend it with your life!

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Ron Lambert
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quote:
Originally posted by Teshi:
...the idea is to pick something (something unifying or just one that you think is the most driving behind the book) and then defend it with your life!

Save that for your doctoral dissertation. You don't want to peak too early! [Smile]
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vonk
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I'm gonna second Sirens of Titan. Probably my favorite. For more realistic stories you might check out Jailbird or Mother Night. Both pretty good, but kinda sad and realiztic.

And reading Breakfast of Champions first had to be weird, as it references several characters from other novels, and has Vonnegut himself as a character, which made it one of the most unique novels I've read. (<- awesome sentence)

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Bokonon
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I, uh, have maybe read Cat's Cradle before. [Smile]

If I were to pick 4 more Vonnegut books to round out a collection of 5, I'd pick Player Piano, Mother Night, Bluebeard, and Welcome to the Monkey House.

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Frisco
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Took you long enough.

I lit the Bok Beacon like 12 hours ago.

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Bokonon
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I know, I'm slipping. I do't even update the dude [Cool] peekaboo thread on the first day of the month anymore either.
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steven
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quote:
Originally posted by Bokonon:
I, uh, have maybe read Cat's Cradle before. [Smile]

If I were to pick 4 more Vonnegut books to round out a collection of 5, I'd pick Player Piano, Mother Night, Bluebeard, and Welcome to the Monkey House.

It was getting weird, with no posts from you in this thread. LOL
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Tatiana
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I actually think Cat's Cradle is his best book and now that you've read that one, there's no need to read any more. He's fun but not important, I don't think. I mean, his main schtick is his humor. I can still hear the cars that go burton burton and I loved the chapter entitled tent rentals (some drums go "rented a tent, rented a tent, rented a rented a rented a tent", which is the only connection to tent rentals in the chapter). He has a sort of liberating sense of silliness. If a writer can write about a character discovering and unwinding a 3 foot long pubic hair, I mean, then anyone can write about anything, you know?

Other than that, I don't believe anything he wrote about was anything new or profound. He's sort of juvenile, in fact, and not very good as a science fiction writer. His best ideas were in Cat's Cradle, the ice-nine stuff and all that, which is really true. They came, it seems, from his brother who is a famous atmospheric scientist. I've read papers by him in science journals. And his area of expertise is exactly that -- figuring out ways to coax water to freeze or condense or whatever in the process of cloud seeding trying to make rain.

So, bid farewell to Vonnegut, in my opinion. You've already read his best and the rest is just more of the same only not quite so good. Others will obviously disagree. Don't listen to them. [Wink]

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Frisco
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I think it's safe to say that some people actually *enjoy* humor, and will read a book because it's funny, even if it's not profound.



Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything. -Kurt Vonnegut

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Tatiana
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Ah, touche! [Smile]
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vonk
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I'm gonna have to be one of those that disagrees. Mother Night, Jailbird and Slaughterhouse Five all had deep themes and insight. Mother Night and Jailbird weren't even that funny or immature in my opinion. Which was kind of a disappointment actually. Sirens of Titan, while not being one of the deepest books ever, is an excellent sci-fi and that in and of itself should be enough for this forum.
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Ron Lambert
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Frisco, if you want an sf writer who has seemingly sold his soul to humor, how about Piers Anthony and his Xanth series, with its terminal pungicitis?
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Bokonon
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My rationale:

Cat's Cradle: My favorite, and his first steps towards his re-writing the structure of a novel, as seen in SH5 and Breakfast of Champions, without actually departing from the structure (one might say Sirens of Titan was the first experiment. So it goes).

Player Piano: His first novel, and essentially a nearer future re-write of Brave New World. I actually think KV's verdict is much closer to our current reality than most would admit, the dated 50s corporate culture references aside.

Mother Night and Bluebeard: Two beautiful, and decidedly non-scifi novels. I actually think Bluebeard is the best KV novel in terms of pacing and structure, though I'm probably the only one who thinks that.

Welcome to the Monkeyhouse: Just a great collection of short sories from an author who was probably better suited to writing them, IMO.

--
I actually think, in the final analysis that these grand experiments in novel structure (notably SH5 and Breakfast of Champions) are failures, with Kurt being a bit too cute with it all.

And, of course, I've left out my second favorite book of KV's, his take (IMO) on The Great Gatsby: God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. It leaves me simultaneously satisfied and unsatisfied, which I like.

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