Friday, 22 August 2008

From 3 years to 5 days

The previous book I read took 3 years, the next one took 5 days. I started Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut, on Saturday or Sunday, and finished it late last night. It was significantly shorter, at a sparse 179 pages, but of equal significance was that I actually devoted some time to reading it, taking buses rather than riding a couple of days, and taking it to lunch with me a few days.

As for the book itself, I don't have an awful lot to say on it. Its a science fiction story with some commentary on religion/science/politics, but nothing as insightful as, say, Foundation. There seems to be an attempt to neologise (add new words into the vernacular, a la "grok" from Heinlein's Stranger In A Strange Land) but they didn't stick for me. (Ed: I draw these comparisons only to highlight the story elements, not to belittle Vonnegut's book by comparison to what are, after all, probably two of the greatest SF novels ever written).

Apparently Vonnegut was awarded his PhD based on this novel as his thesis, after his original thesis was rejected. I probably wouldn't have given it to him for this book, although his later efforts (what I've read of it, and what I've heard about that which I haven't read, e.g. Slaughterhouse 5) probably merit it, and his overall body of work certainly does.

Next up was going to be Thus Spake Zarathustra, by Nietzsche, but the copy I have is a little delicate in its cover, so I baulked at bringing it on the bus today, instead grabbing Joyce's Dubliners. Its a compilation of short stories, the first of which I read this morning, which he wrote before Portrait of the The Artist As A Young Man (which I liked), and Ulysses (which I have struggled, and thus far failed, to finish). Hopefully its episodic nature will lend itself to easier reading than Ulysses, and also to my current episodic pattern of reading.

Apologies to Ali if this post seems pretentious :)

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