Sunday, May 06, 2007

Mother Night (by Kurt Vonnegut)

I know, how can I proclaim my love for Vonnegut without having read Mother Night? It is very incorrect. But at least now I have read it and can continue my love proclamations with impunity. (Wow, why am I writing these weirdo sentences? It's not Vonnegut's fault, that's for sure.)

Deceptively simple next to something like Slaughterhouse-Five. Actually, all of Vonnegut can be a little deceptively simple. He's easy to read, he's witty. But beneath it all he has real stuff to say. This one is about an American who becomes a Nazi propaganda broadcaster, but is secretly a spy. But is he more spy, or more Nazi? And what's the difference? Vonnegut claims the moral is "you are what you pretend to be, so be careful what you pretend to be." Pretty good damned moral.

Asks real and interesting questions about reality, moral ambiguity, love, and humanity. And is frighteningly topical.

"There are plenty of good reasons for fighting, but no good reason ever to hate without reservation, to imagine that God almighty Himself hates with you, too. Where's evil? It's that large part of every man that wants to hate without limit, that wants to hate with God on its side."

3 Comments:

Blogger Melinda said...

I just read this too, right after he died. It's such a dark yet lovely piece, and even managed to be amusing despite the subject matter. I never quite knew whether I was reading about a hero or a villain and that was what made it awesome.

8:45 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Not to belittle the awesomeness that is Slaughterhouse-Five, but I think Mother Night is the best Vonnegut book I've read. You'll note that both received four stars in my ratings.

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Jason said...

If I may paraphrase chapter 40 in Mother Night; I froze. Not because I felt guilty, because I didn't. Not because I felt a ghastly sense of loss, because I taught myself not to covet. Not because of the injustices dealt to humanity, because who defines what is right and wrong? I froze because I had nothing to make me move.

This changed my life. I tell myself about problems "big deal. people are dying in africa." and when I deal with death "big deal. we all die." But then, if one feels nothing, what is there to live for?

2:07 PM  

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