CBR10Bingo – Throwback Thursday (whoa it’s Thursday!)
I think this was the last unread Kurt Vonnegut novel I read, when I read it about 15 years ago. It came out shortly before I first started reading Vonnegut when I was 14 or 15 and so it marked the first and last exposure to him as a living writer. I didn’t read for several years after. Also, along with Slaughterhouse 5, which I have read a half dozen times or so, this is the only Vonnegut I’ve reread. I still have three of his novels in secret reserve to read for the first time, along with about half of his short stories. Like a lot of white American boys of a certain liberal bent, I connected with what I would think of as his annoyed hopeful pessimism. He’s no nihilist and he’s not really a cynic. He’s annoyed that he still cares.
This is also his best book of his last six or so, unless Galapagos ends up being great (having not read it) but I’m guess it won’t be.
Anyway, I was curious whether this would hold up, and I found myself really enjoying it. It’s not a novel in the way of having a story or anything, but it’s got a definite narrative voice and a tone, and it’s got a clear idea and fictive construct worth exploring. The idea here is that Kurt Vonnegut was trying to write a novel in 1996 and it just didn’t take. So he wrote this one instead. Both novels were this one, Timequake, about an event in which at 2001, everybody in the world had to replay the world exactly as it happened for the last ten years without deviation. He refers to this as the Timequake and the release from it as the return of free will.
What’s fascinating to me is how this release back to free will occurred just in time for 9/11, which this book seems to effectively signal the end of a pre-9/11 world in a lot of ways.