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.
“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.