Saturday, April 7, 2012

Vonnegut In Retrospect: Slapstick

Slapstick (1976)

The man who wrote in 1959 (through a character) that "a purpose of a human to love whoever is around to be loved" writes in the intro to Slapstick that love "does not seem important to me." Vonnegut was mired in a prolonged separation and divorce at this point in his life, so perhaps it is not surprising his opinion of love had degraded. He also says that Slapstick is "the closest I will come to writing an autobiography." It does not read anything like an autobiography to me. Perhaps the most personal element is the relationship of the main character Wilbur Swain and his sister Eliza. When they were together, they were brilliant and happy, and when separated, mediocre and melancholy. I wondered if Vonnegut felt that way about his own sister (who had been dead for 18 years when Slapstick was published).

The most interesting part of the book is the creation of a government program to end loneliness in America. Every citizen is issued a new middle name, with resulting groups of around 10,000 persons who share a middle name and are now family. As the parent of two young children, I could get behind the idea of having lots of family caretakers around to share the child-rearing duties as portrayed in the book. In addition to fleshing out this social experiment, the book also features the collapse of the US government and ensuing wars between states. Though there is little science-fiction to be found in Slapstick, it still reads as one of his most inventive/imaginative.

This is the hardest book to rate so far for me...Anywhere between 6.5-9.0 really, but I'll go with 7.8/10.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Vonnegut Kindle Dude

Rec'd: Carrie Brownstein on WTF Podcast

Been on a real Sleater-Kinney/Wild Flag/Portlandia kick, and amazement abounds at the radicality of Ms Carrie Brownstein. That amazement is fortified, strengthened, and reinforced after listening to this delightful conversation between Ms Brownstein and Marc Maron on his WTF podcast. This is somehow the first time I've ever listened to WTF in spite of Maron having tons of interesting guests before. I'll be checking more out after hearing what an engaging conversationalist Maron is.

WTF Episode 267 - Carrie Brownstein