Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut

Come the half way point or so in this book I was rather indignantly thinking how wrong all the harsh criticism of it is. As usual Vonnegut was making me liberally annotate as I wrote. Here: Yes! There: Haha! Somewhere else: Ting-a-ling!!! By the end, however, it was a chore. Those explanation points! Those ting-a-lings!!! I wanted to get right into the very paper of the book and kill them!!!!

Maybe it’s worth reading as a piece on how writers suffer when they can’t write – or think they can’t write, since obviously they can.

But it is worth reading for the insights into life.

They say the first thing to go when you’re old is your legs or your eyesight. It isn’t true. The first thing to go is parallel parking.

It is worth reading for his regrets, in particular the destruction of life as it was by television; most personally for him it meant the end of the short story. It’s so sad! And later talking again about the evils of the beast, he mentions that his nephew

…learned the hard way that all his jokes for TV had to be about events that had been made much of by TV itself, and very recently. If a joke was about something that hadn’t been on TV for a month or more, the watchers wouldn’t have a clue, even though the laugh track was laughing, as to what they themselves were supposed to laugh about.

Guess what? TV is an eraser.

And, of course, for the prominent role of Kilgore Trout. If Vonnegut had lost his way with words, Kilgore had not.

I wouldn’t have missed the Great Depression or my part in World War Two for anything. Trout asserted at the clambake that our war would live forever in show biz, as other wars would not, because of the uniforms of the Nazis.

He commented unfavourably on the camouflage suits our own generals wear nowadays on TV, when they describe our blasting the bejesus out of some Third World country because of petroleum. ‘I can’t imagine,’ he said, ‘any part of the world where such garish pyjamas would make a soldier less rather than more visible.

‘We are evidently preparing,’ he said, ‘to fight World War Three in the midst of an enormous Spanish omelet.’

I read this and think, who cares about faults?

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