I have only read two of Vonnegut’s books, so how much can I really say? Well, I can say that I found both to be interesting, generally well-written, and perhaps most importantly, humorous. However, neither bowled me over, as I was led to believe they would by so many people.
Cat’s Cradle was recommended to me by a few people after I read A Man without a Country. In Cat’s Cradle, Vonnegut tells the fictionalized story of Dr. Hoenikker, the scientist responsible for the atomic bomb. Really, it is the story of a man who is writing a book about this scientist. His search leads him to the island country of San Lorenzo, where Hoenikker’s children have gathered. While on the island the writer meets a beautiful woman and falls in love, discovers a new religion, and narrowly escapes being wiped out by one of Hoenikker’s virtually unknown creations. Ice-Nine, which was originally created so the Marines would no longer have to trudge through mud, is essentially a restructuring of water so that its melting point is 150 degrees Fahrenheit. By simply tossing a bit of Ice-Nine into some muddy slush, the Marines would soon have a hard, “frozen” surface to travel across. The only problem is how to stop the reaction once it has started. Needless to say, Ice-Nine kills people. But stupidly enough, only if they touch it to their lips. Vonnegut seemed to ignore the fact that human skin in quite porous. This really annoyed me.
Anyway…sure Vonnegut has a gift for satire, but that alone does not elevate someone to the status of a great writer. Cat’s Cradle was good. Just good. I think I will try Slaughterhouse 5 next.