Daily Deals: Cat’s Cradle and Gallop for Gold Slots

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Cat’s Cradle (1963) is Vonnegut’s most ambitious novel, which put into the language terms like “wampeter”, “kerass” and “granfalloon” as well as a structured religion, Boskonism and was submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements for a Master’s Degree in anthropology, and in its sprawling compass and almost uncontrolled (and uncontrollable) invention, may be Vonnegut’s best novel.

Written contemporaneously with the Cuban missile crisis and countenancing a version of a world in the grasp of magnified human stupidity, the novel is centered on Felix Hoenikker, a chemical scientist reminiscent of Robert Oppenheimer… except that Oppenheimer was destroyed by his conscience and Hoenikker, delighting in the disastrous chemicals he has invented, has no conscience at all. Hoenikker’s “Ice 9” has the potential to convert all liquid to inert ice and thus destroy human existence; he is exiled to a remote island where Boskonism has enlisted all of its inhabitants and where religion and technology collaborate, with the help of a large cast of characters, to destroy civilization.

Vonnegut’s compassion and despair are expressed here through his grotesque elaboration of character and situation and also through his created religion which like Flannery O’Connor’s “Church Without Christ” (in Wise Blood) acts to serve its adherents by removing them from individual responsibility. Vonnegut had always been taken seriously by science fiction readers and critics (a reception which indeed made him uncomfortable) but it was with Cat’s Cradle that he began to be found and appreciated by a more general audience. His own ambivalence toward science, science fiction, religion and religious comfort comes through in every scene of this novel.

Some words about the Author

Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) is one of the most beloved American writers of the twentieth century. Vonnegut’s audience increased steadily since his first five pieces in the 1950s and grew from there. His 1968 novel Slaughterhouse-Five has become a canonic war novel with Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 to form the truest and darkest of what came from World War II.

Vonnegut began his career as a science fiction writer, and his early novels–Player Piano and The Sirens of Titan–were categorized as such even as they appealed to an audience far beyond the reach of the category. In the 1960s, Vonnegut became closely associated with the Baby Boomer generation, a writer on that side, so to speak.

Now that Vonnegut’s work has been studied as a large body of work, it has been more deeply understood and unified. There is a consistency to his satirical insight, humor and anger which makes his work so synergistic. It seems clear that the more of Vonnegut’s work you read, the more it resonates and the more you wish to read. Scholars believe that Vonnegut’s reputation (like Mark Twain’s) will grow steadily through the decades as his work continues to increase in relevance and new connections are formed, new insights made.


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Sunshine Deals – Kindle Books for $2.99 or Less

I wrote a post on a Kindle $3.99 or less sale recently, but now the sale is even better with some great Kindle books going for $.99, $1.99, and $2.99.  The sale on over 600 books ends on June 15.

Just going on the books I’ve read out of this list, I highly recommend Choosing to SEE by Mary Beth Chapman, The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy, Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, and According to Jane by Marilyn Brant.

Choosing to SEE is an emotional autobiography written by Mary Beth Chapman, the wife of famous Christian singer, Steven Curtis Chapman.  It covers the beginning of their marriage, adoptions, and covers a great deal of the grief surrounding the accident that killed their daughter Maria.

The Prince of Tides is of course full of Conroy’s usual humor, violence and relationship drama.  One thing that really amazes me about his books are how he can make situations so hilarious, but also terrifying at the same time.

I am currently working on reading Cat’s Cradle. Vonnegut’s style is pretty dark, yet I found myself laughing out loud at his dry sense of humor.  Cat’s Cradle is about a writer who is doing research on the atomic bomb.  The novel is one of love, lies, and self destruction, as well as science fiction.  When I searched for this book, there is another edition for $11.99, so make sure you go through the sales page to get this particular version.  There are other Vonnegut books on the list as well.

According to Jane was a free book on the Kindle for a brief time, and I managed to snatch it.  I am not a big Jane Austen fan overall, but really enjoyed Brant’s easygoing writing style and the interactions between the main character and Jane.  Jane comes to visit Ellie in her subconscious and they become fast friends.  Ellie is a modern day Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice and the this story takes the reader through many twists and turns until she finally meets her Mr. Darcy.

There are a number of other great books to choose from in fiction and literature, mystery and thriller, health and beauty, and nonfiction.  Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) does a great job of featuring the best rated books and the editors’ picks.


Kurt Vonnegut for Kindle

I’m the one who always has a book or Kindle in hand.  I always devoured books and enjoy escaping into an different world.  My brother was the opposite.  It was like pulling teeth to get him to read.

But, even nonreaders can find their niche.  My brother did with Kurt Vonnegut.  The author’s books can be described as absurd and certainly didn’t fit into the mainstream.  Vonnegut’s most famous work is Slaughterhouse Five, a harrowing account of his experiences as a prisoner in Germany and the bombing of Dresden.

Slaughterhouse Five tells the story of Billy Pilgrim, a prisoner in Slaughterhouse Five in Germany during World War II, just as Vonnegut was.  The twist, however, is that Pilgrim was abducted by aliens and time traveled.  He went off to different areas of time and comes back the present, where he is prisoner.  In a sense, this what prisoners had to do with their minds to remain sane.  I’ve read books where the prisoners would imagine that they are eating their mother’s cooking, or done something they loved to escape the misery.

I really liked what Andyrew had to say about Slaughterhouse Five:

“One of the major themes of the book is fate. The prayer of serenity appears twice in the book stating that we need to change the things we can and be wise enough to know which things we cannot change. Also the Tralfamadorians speak of fate. They say they know how the universe is going to end, but they do nothing to stop it. Vonnegut seems to say that yes, war is one of those things we cannot avoid, but we need to change the things we can about it, like the atrocious bombing of Dresden.”

I am currently reading Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle on my Kindle, and I have to admit it veers away from my typical reading material.  But, so far I find it pretty funny.  The narrator, Jonah, sets off to find out more about the atomic bomb that was dropped on Japan to end World War II.  Throughout his journey to learn more about the bomb and the person who invented it, the reader encounters some major themes dealing with science, religion and politics.  Cat’s Cradle manages to provide great insight on these hot topics while integrating quite a bit of dry humor.

It is fitting that I am reading about the atomic bomb, because I also just finished Laura Hillenbrand’s bestselling novel, Unbroken, which chronicles the life and experiences of an American POW in Japan.  That one is particularly riveting and I highly recommend reading it.

Vonnegut also wrote many other books, including Breakfast of Champions that are certainly worth checking out.  However, not all are available on Kindle yet.  But hopefully they will be soon.

Kurt Vonnegut, Good Kindle Books at a Glance #13

It is rather difficult to name a certain genre Kurt Vonnegut’s works might belong to; to me, they are a mixture of science fiction, black comedy and philosophical fiction. Being honorary president of the American Humanist Association, he also promoted humanist beliefs and social reforms through his books. Some of the novels are available now in Kindle edition.

Cat’s Cradle (published in 1963) is one of the most famous Kurt Vonnegut’s books; it’s my favorite. In 1964 the novel was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Novel; to express appreciation of the novel  the University of Chicago awarded the author his Master’s degree in anthropology. In the center of the plot the writer places “ice-nine” – a newly-discovered matter that can cause freezing of water once it has been in contact with it, thus leading to a global catastrophe on the Earth. The substance was created by Felix Hoenikker; though a bright scientist, he is an amoral person who does not care about the way his discoveries, including the atomic bomb, might be used. “Vonnegut’s madly amusing imagination is in full play here, and the novel is a triumph of contemporary satire.”

Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death (published in 1969) is an anti-war science fiction novel. Though often subject to censorship, the book was nominated for a Nebula Award and a Hugo Award in 1970. It tells the story of American soldier Billi Pigrim who was taken prisoner of war in World War II and brought to a slaughterhouse in Dresden. A fantastic thing happens then as Billi is kidnapped by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore and learns to travel in time.  “In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut’s) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.”

Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday (published in 1973) is a satirical novel with the title taken from the popular slogan of  Wheaties breakfast cereal. In the book, though,  this phrase is said by a waitress every time she serves a customer a martini. One of the main characters, Dwayne Hoover, is brought into madness by a book written by Kilgore Trout, an unknown pulp fiction writer. “Breakfast of Champions is a slippery, lucid, bleakly humorous jaunt through (sick? inhumane?) America circa 1973, with Vonnegut acting as our Virgil-like companion.”

Kurt Vonnegut On Kindle

Kurt Vonnegut On Kindle