Publisher, Date:
New York, N.Y. : Delta Trade Paperbacks, 1998, c1963.
xiii, 287 p. ; 21 cm.
From the Publisher: Cat's Cradle is Vonnegut's satirical commentary on modern man and his madness. An apocalyptic tale of this planet's ultimate fate, it features a midget as the protagonist; a complete, original theology created by a calypso singer; and a vision of the future that is at once blackly fatalistic and hilariously funny.
1: Day the world ended -- 2: Nice, nice, very nice -- 3: Folly -- 4: Tentative tangling of tendrils -- 5: Letter from a pre-med -- 6: Bug fights -- 7: Illustrious hoenikkers -- 8: Newt's thing with Zinka -- 9: Vice-president in charge of volcanoes -- 10: Secret agent X-9 -- 11: Protein -- 12: End of the world delight -- 13: Jumping-off place -- 14: When automobiles had cut-glass vases -- 15: Merry Christmas -- 16: Back to Kindergarten -- 17: Girl pool -- 18: Most valuable commodity on earth -- 19: No more mud -- 20: Ice-nine -- 21: Marines march on -- 22: Member of the yellow press -- 23: Last batch of brownies -- 24: What a wampeter is -- 25: Main thing about Dr Hoenikker -- 26: What God is -- 27: Men from Mars -- 28: Mayonnaise -- 29: Gone, but not forgotten -- 30: Only sleeping -- 31: Another breed -- 32: Dynamite money -- 33: Ungrateful man -- 34: Vin-dit -- 35: Hobby shop -- 36: Meow -- 37: Modern Major General -- 38: Barracuda capital of the world -- 39: Fata Morgana -- 40: House of hope and mercy -- 41: Karass built for two -- 42: Bicycles for Afghanistan -- 43: Demonstrator -- 44: Communist sympathizers -- 45: Why Americans are hated -- 46: Bokononist method for handling Caesar -- 47: Dynamic tension -- 48: Just like Saint Augustine -- 49: Fish pitched up by an angry sea -- 50: Nice midget -- 51: O K mom -- 52: No pain -- 53: President of Fabri-Tek -- 54: Communist, Nazis, Royalists, parachutists, and draft dodgers -- 55: Never index your own book -- 56: Self-supporting squirrel cage -- 57: Queasy dream -- 58: Tyranny with a difference -- 59: Fasten your seat belts -- 60: Underprivileged nation -- 61: What a corporal was worth -- 62: Why Hazel wasn't scared -- 63: Reverent and free -- 64: Peace and plenty -- 65: Good time to come to San Lorenzo -- 66: Strongest thing there is -- 67: HY-u-o-ook-kuh! -- 68: Hoon-year mora-toorz -- 69: Big mosaic -- 70: Tutored by Bokonon -- 71: Happiness of being an American -- 72: Pissant Hilton -- 73: Black death -- 74: Cat's cradle -- 75: Give my regards to Albert Schweitzer -- 76: Julian Castle agrees with Newt that everything is meaningless -- 77: Aspirin and Boko-Maru -- 78: Ring of steel -- 79: Why McCabe's soul grew coarse -- 80: Waterfall strainers -- 81: White bride for the son of a Pullman porter -- 82: Zah-Mah-Ki-Bo -- 83: Dr Schlichter von Koenigswald approaches the break-even point -- 84: Blackout -- 85: Pack of Foma -- 86: Two little jugs -- 87: Cut of my jib -- 88: Why Frank couldn't be president -- 89: Duffle -- 90: Only one catch -- 91: Mona -- 92: On the poet's celebration of his first Boko-Maru -- 93: How I almost lost my Mona -- 94: Highest mountain -- 95: I see the hook -- 96: Bell, book, and chicken in a hatbox -- 97: Stinking Christian -- 98: Last rites -- 99: Dyot meet mat -- 100: Down the oubliette goes Frank --
101: Like my predecessors, I outlaw Bokonon -- 102: Enemies of freedom -- 103: Medical opinion on the effects of a writers' strike -- 104: Sulfathiazole -- 105: Pain-killer -- 106: What Bokononists say when they commit suicide -- 107: Feast your eyes! -- 108: Frank tells us what to do -- 109: Frank defends himself -- 110: Fourteenth book -- 111: Time out -- 112: Newt's mother's reticule -- 113: History -- 114: When I felt the bullet enter my heart -- 115: As it happened -- 116: Grand ah-whoom -- 117: Sanctuary -- 118: Iron maiden and the oubliette -- 119: Mona thanks me -- 120: To whom it may concern -- 121: I am slow to answer -- 122: Swiss family Robinson -- 123: Of mice and men -- 124: Frank's ant farm -- 125: Tasmanians -- 126: Soft pipes, play on -- 127: End.
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Author Notes
The appeal of Kurt Vonnegut, especially to bright younger readers of the past few decades, may be attributed partly to the fact that he is one of the few writers who have successfully straddled the imaginary line between science-fiction/fantasy and "real literature." He was born in Indianapolis and attended Cornell University, but his college education was interrupted by World War II. Captured during the Battle of the Bulge and imprisoned in Dresden, he received a Purple Heart for what he calls a "ludicrously negligible wound." After the war he returned to Cornell and then earned his M.A. at the University of Chicago.He worked as a police reporter and in public relations before placing several short stories in the popular magazines and beginning his career as a novelist. <p> His first novel, Player Piano (1952), is a highly credible account of a future mechanistic society in which people count for little and machines for much. The Sirens of Titan (1959), is the story of a playboy whisked off to Mars and outer space in order to learn some humbling lessons about Earth's modest function in the total scheme of things. Mother Night (1962) satirizes the Nazi mentality in its narrative about an American writer who broadcasts propaganda in Germany during the war as an Allied agent. Cat's Cradle (1963) makes use of some of Vonnegut's experiences in General Electric laboratories in its story about the discovery of a special kind of ice that destroys the world. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1965) satirizes a benevolent foundation set up to foster the salvation of the world through love, an endeavor with, of course, disastrous results. Slaughterhouse-Five; or The Children's Crusade (1969) is the book that marked a turning point in Vonnegut's career. Based on his experiences in Dresden, it is the story of another Vonnegut surrogate named Billy Pilgrim who travels back and forth in time and becomes a kind of modern-day Everyman. The novel was something of a cult book during the Vietnam era for its antiwar sentiments. Breakfast of Champions (1973), the story of a Pontiac dealer who goes crazy after reading a science fiction novel by "Kilgore Trout," received generally unfavorable reviews but was a commercial success. Slapstick (1976), dedicated to the memory of Laurel and Hardy, is the somewhat wacky memoir of a 100-year-old ex-president who thinks he can solve society's problems by giving everyone a new middle name. In addition to his fiction, Vonnegut has published nonfiction on social problems and other topics, some of which is collected in Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons (1974). <p> He died from head injuries sustained in a fall on April 11, 2007. <p> (Bowker Author Biography) Kurt Vonnegut is among the few grandmasters of 20th century American letters. He was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on November 11, 1922. Vonnegut lives in New York City. <p> (Publisher Provided)
First Chapter or Excerpt
Chapter One The Day the World Ended Call me Jonah. My parents did, or nearly did. They called me John. Jonah--John--if I had been a Sam, I would have been Jonah still--not because I have been unlucky for others, but because somebody or something has compelled me to be certain places at certain times, without fail. Conveyances and motives, both conventional and bizarre, have been provided. And, according to plan, at each appointed second, at each appointed place this Jonah was there. Listen: When I was a younger man--two wives ago, 250,000 cigarettes ago, 3,000 quarts of booze ago . . . When I was a much younger man, I began to collect material for a book to be called The Day the World Ended. The book was to be factual. The book was to be an account of what important Americans had done on the day when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. It was to be a Christian book. I was a Christian then. I am a Bokononist now. I would have been a Bokononist then, if there had been anyone to teach me the bittersweet lies of Bokonon. But Bokononism was unknown beyond the gravel beaches and coral knives that ring this little island in the Caribbean Sea, the Republic of San Lorenzo. We Bokononists believe that humanity is organized into teams, teams that do God's Will without ever discovering what they are doing. Such a team is called a karass by Bokonon, and the instrument, the kan-kan, that bought me into my own particular karass was the book I never finished, the book to be called The Day the World Ended. Chapter Two Nice, Nice, Very Nice "If you find your life tangled up with somebody else's life for no very logical reasons," writes Bokonon, "that person may be a member of your karass." At another point in The Books of Bokonon he tells us, "Man created the checkerboard; God created the karass." By that he means that a karass ignores national, institutional, occupational, familial, and class boundaries. It is as free-form as an amoeba. In his "Fifty-third Calypso," Bokonon invites us to sing along with him: Oh, a sleeping drunkard Up in Central Park, And a lion-hunter In the jungle dark, And a Chinese dentist, And a British queen-- All fit together In the same machine. Nice, nice, very nice; Nice, nice, very nice; Nice, nice very nice-- So many different people In the same device. Chapter Three Folly Nowhere does Bokonon warn against a person's trying to discover the limits of his karass and the nature of the work God Almighty has had it do. Bokonon simply observes that such investigations are bound to be incomplete. In the autobiographical section of The Books of Bokonon he writes a parable on the folly of pretending to discover, to understand: I once knew an Episcopalian lady in Newport, Rhode Island, who asked me to design and build a doghouse for her Great Dane. The lady claimed to understand God and His Ways of Working perfectly. She could not understand why anyone should be puzzled about what had been or about what was going to be. And yet, when I showed her a blueprint of the doghouse I proposed to build, she said to me, "I'm sorry, but I never could read one of those things." "Give it to your husband or your ministers to pass on to God," I said, "and, when God finds a minute, I'm sure he'll explain this doghouse of mine in a way that even you can understand." She fired me. I shall never forget her. She believed that God liked people in sailboats much better than He liked people in motorboats. She could not bear to look at a worm. When she saw a worm, she screamed. She was a fool, and so am I, and so is anyone who thinks he sees what God is Doing, [writes Bokonon]. Chapter Four A Tentative Tangling Of Tendrils Be that as it may, I intend in this book to include as many members of my karass as possible, and I mean to examine all strong hints as to what on Earth we, collectively, have been up to. I do not intend that this book be a tract on behalf of Bokononism. I should like to offer a Bokononist warning about it, however. The first sentence in The Books of Bokonon is this: "All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies." My Bokononist warning in this: Anyone unable to understand how a useful religion can be founded on lies will not understand this book either. So be it. . . . About my karass, then. It surely includes the three children of Dr. Felix Hoenikker, one of the so-called "Fathers" of the first atomic bomb. Dr. Hoenikker himself was no doubt a member of my karass, though he was dead before my sinookas, the tendrils of my life, began to tangle with those of his children. The first of his heirs to be touched by my sinookas was Newton Hoenikker, the youngest of his three children, the younger of his two sons. I learned from the publication of my fraternity, The Delta Upsilon Quarterly, that Newton Hoenikker, son of the Noel Prize physicist, Felix Hoenikker, had been pledged by my chapter, the Cornell Chapter. So I wrote this letter to Newt: "Dear Mr. Hoenikker: "Or should I say, Dear Brother Hoenikker? "I am a Cornell DU now making my living as a free-lance writer. I am gathering material for a book relating to the first atomic bomb. Its contents will be limited to events that took place on August 6, 1945, the day the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. "Since your late father is generally recognized as having been one of the chief creators of the bomb, I would very much appreciate any anecdotes you might care to give me of life in your father's house on the day the bomb was dropped. "I am sorry to say that I don't know as much about your illustrious family as I should, and so don't know whether you have brothers and sisters. If you do have brothers and sisters, I should like very much to have their addresses so that I can send similar requests to them. "I realize that you were very young when the bomb was dropped, which is all to the good, My book is going to emphasize the human rather than the technical side of the bomb, so recollections of the day through the eyes of a 'baby, if you'll pardon the expression, would fit in perfectly. "You don't have to worry about style and form. Leave all that to me. Just give me the bare bones of your story. "I will, of course, submit the final version to you for your approval prior to publication. "Fraternally yours--" Chapter Five Letter from a pre med To which Newt replied: "I am sorry to be so long about answering your letter. That sounds like a very interesting book you are doing. I was so young when the bomb was dropped that I don't think I'm going to be much help. You should really ask my brother and sister, who are both older than I am. My sister is Mrs. Harrison C. Conners, 4918 North Meridian Street, Indianapolis, Indiana. That is my home address, too, now. I think she will be glad to help you. Nobody knows where my brother Frank is. He disappeared right after Father's funeral two years ago, and nobody has heard from him since. For all we know, he may be dead now. "I was only six years old when they dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, so anything I remember about that day other people have helped me to remember. "I remember I was playing on the living-room carpet outside my father's study door in Ilium, New York. The door was open, and I could see my father. He was wearing pajamas and a bathrobe. He was smoking a cigar. He was playing with a loop of string. Father was staying home from the laboratory in his pajamas all day that day. He stayed home whenever he wanted to. "Father, as you probably know, spent practically his whole professional life working for the Research Laboratory of the General Forge and Foundry Company in Ilium. When the Manhattan Project came along, the bomb project, Father wouldn't leave Ilium to work on it. He said he wouldn't work on it at all unless they let him work where he wanted to work. A lot of the time that meant at home. The only place he liked to go, outside of Ilium, was our cottage on Cape Cod. Cape Cod was where he died. He died on a Christmas Eve. You probably know that, too. "Anyway, I was playing on the carpet outside his study on the day of the bomb. My sister Angela tells me I used to play with little toy trucks for hours, making motor sounds, going 'burton, burton, burton' all the time. So I guess I was going 'burton, burton, burton' on the day of the bomb; and Father was in his study, playing with a loop of string. "It so happens I know where the string he was playing with came from. Maybe you can use it somewhere in your book. Father took the string from around the manuscript of a novel that a man in prison had sent him. The novel was about the end of the world in the year 2000, and the name of the book was 2000 A.D. It told about how mad scientists made a terrific bomb that wiped out the whole world. There was a big sex orgy when everybody knew that the world was going to end, and then Jesus Christ Himself appeared ten seconds before the bomb went off. The name of the author was Marvin Sharpe Holderness, and he told Father in a covering letter the he was in prison for killing his own brother. He sent the manuscript to Father because he couldn't figure out what kind of explosives to put in the bomb. He thought maybe Father could make suggestions. "I don't mean to tell you I read the book when I was six. We had it around the house for years. My brother Frank made it his personal property, on account of the dirty parts. Frank kept it hidden in what he called his 'wall safe' in his bedroom. Actually, it wasn't a safe but just an old stove flue with a tin lid. Frank and I must have read the orgy part a thousand times when we were kids. We had it for years, and then my sister Angela found it. She read it and said it was nothing but a piece of dirty rotten filth. She burned it up, and the string with it. She was a mother to Frank and me, because our real mother died when I was born. "My father never read the book, I'm pretty sure. I don't think he ever read a novel or even a short story in his whole life, or at least not since he was a little boy. He didn't read his mail or magazines or newspapers, either. I suppose he read a lot of technical journals, but to tell you the truth, I can't remember my father reading anything. "As I say, all he wanted from that manuscript was the string. That was the way he was. Nobody could predict what he was going to be interested in next. On the day of the bomb it was string. "Have you ever read the speech he made when he accepted the Nobel Prize? This is the whole speech: 'Ladies and Gentlemen. I stand before you now because I never stopped dawdling like an eight-year-old on a spring morning on his way to school. Anything can make me stop and look and wonder, and sometimes learn. I am a very happy man. Thank you.' "Anyway, Father looked at that loop of string for a while, and then his fingers started playing with it. His fingers made the string figure called a 'cat's cradle.' I don't know where Father learned how to do that. From his father, maybe. His father was a tailor, you know, so there must have been thread and string around all the time when Father was a boy. "Making that cat's cradle was the closest I ever saw my father come to playing what anybody else would call a game. He had no use at all for tricks and games and rules that other people made up. In a scrapbook my sister Angela used to keep up, there was a clipping from Time magazine where somebody asked Father what games he played for relaxation, and he said, 'Why should I bother with made-up games when there are so many real ones going on?' "He must have surprised himself when he made a cat's cradle out of the string, and maybe it reminded him of his own childhood. He all of a sudden came out of his study and did something he'd never done before. He tried to play with me. Not only had he never played with me before; he had hardly ever even spoken to me. "But he went down on his knees on the carpet next to me, and he showed me his teeth, and he waved that tangle of string in my face. 'See? See? See?' he asked. 'Cat's cradle. See the cat's cradle? See where the nice pussycat sleeps? Meow. Meow.' "His pores looked as big as craters on the moon. His ears and nostrils were stuffed with hair. Cigar smoke made him smell like the mouth of Hell. So close up, my father was the ugliest thing I had ever seen. I dream about it all the time. "And then he sang. 'Rockabye catsy, in the tree top'; he sang, 'when the wind blows, the cray-dull will rock. If the bough breaks, the cray-dull will fall. Down will come cray-dull, catsy and all.' "I burst into tears. I jumped up and I ran out of the house as fast as I could go. "I have to sign off here. It's after two in the morning. My roommate just woke up and complained about the noise from the typewriter." Excerpted from Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.
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  Publishers Weekly Review

Vonnegut's 1963 satirical science fiction novel still manages to pack a powerfully subversive punch. The new audio release offers listeners an excellent opportunity to connect--or reconnect--with a classic text whose thematic elements--nuclear terror, the complications of science, American imperialism, global capitalism and the role of religion in public life--are remarkably relevant to our 21st-century landscape. The story line centers on a young writer's quest to research the history of the atomic bomb, which leads to a bizarre political soap opera and apocalyptic showdown on the shores of a seedy banana republic in the Caribbean. Tony Roberts brings tremendous energy to his reading, projecting a sardonic tone perfectly suited to Vonnegut. His portrayals of the principal male figures sometimes take the form of interchangeable over-the-top carnival barkers, but given the essence of the material, such a unnuanced approach can be understood and appreciated. The audiobook includes a 2005 interview in which Vonnegut--who died April 11, 2007--discusses how his life shaped his literary craft. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Cat's Cradle is Kurt Vonnegut's satirical commentary on modern man and his madness. An apocalyptic tale of this planet's ultimate fate, it features a midget as the protagonist, a complete, original theology created by a calypso singer, and a vision of the future that is at once blackly fatalistic and hilariously funny. A book that left an indelible mark on an entire generation of readers, Cat's Cradle is one of the twentieth century's most important works--and Vonnegut at his very best.<br>
Table of Contents
1The Day the World Endedp. 1
2Nice, Nice, Very Nicep. 2
3Follyp. 4
4A Tentative Tangling of Tendrilsp. 5
5Letter from a Pre-Medp. 8
6Bug Fightsp. 13
7The Illustrious Hoenikkersp. 18
8Newt's Thing with Zinkap. 19
9Vice-President in Charge of Volcanoesp. 20
10Secret Agent X-9p. 21
11Proteinp. 24
12End of the World Delightp. 25
13The Jumping-Off Placep. 27
14When Automobiles Had Cut-Glass Vasesp. 30
15Merry Christmasp. 32
16Back to Kindergartenp. 35
17The Girl Poolp. 37
18The Most Valuable Commodity on Earthp. 39
19No More Mudp. 42
20Ice-Ninep. 44
21The Marines March onp. 47
22Member of the Yellow Pressp. 48
23The Last Batch of Browniesp. 50
24What a Wampeter isp. 52
25The Main Thing About Dr. Hoenikkerp. 53
26What God isp. 54
27Men from Marsp. 55
28Mayonnaisep. 58
29Gone, But Not Forgottenp. 60
30Only Sleepingp. 61
31Another Breedp. 63
32Dynamite Moneyp. 64
33An Ungrateful Manp. 66
34Vin-Ditp. 69
35Hobby Shopp. 73
36Meowp. 77
37A Modern Major Generalp. 79
38Barracuda Capital of the Worldp. 81
39Fata Morganap. 82
40House of Hope and Mercyp. 84
41A Karass Built for Twop. 86
42Bicycles for Afghanistanp. 88
43The Demonstratorp. 92
44Communist Sympathizersp. 96
45Why Americans are Hatedp. 98
46The Bokononist Method for Handling Caesarp. 99
47Dynamic Tensionp. 101
48Just Like Saint Augustinep. 103
49A Fish Pitched Up by an Angry Seap. 104
50A Nice Midgetp. 109
51O.K., Momp. 110
52No Painp. 114
53The President of Fabri-Tekp. 116
54Communists, Nazis, Royalists, Parachutists, and Draft Dodgersp. 118
55Never Index Your Own Bookp. 119
56.A Self-Supporting Squirrel Cagep. 123
57.The Queasy Dreamp. 125
58.Tyranny With A Differencep. 127
59.Fasten Your Seat Beltsp. 129
60.An Underprivileged Nationp. 132
61.What A Corporal Was Worthp. 134
62.Why Hazel Wasn't Scaredp. 136
63.Reverent And Freep. 137
64.Peace And Plentyp. 139
65.A Good Time To Come To San Lorenzop. 141
66.The Strongest Thing There Isp. 144
67.Hy-U-O-Ook-Kuh!p. 147
68.Hoon-Yera Mora-Toorzp. 149
69.A Big Mosaicp. 150
70.Tutored By Bokononp. 153
71.The Happiness Of Being An Americanp. 154
72.The Pissant Hiltonp. 156
73.Black Deathp. 159
74.Cat's Cradlep. 163
75.Give My Regards To Albert Scweitzerp. 166
76.Julian Castle Agrees With Newt That Everything Is Meaninglessp. 168
77.Aspirin And Boko-Marup. 170
78.Ring Of Steelp. 172
79.Why McCabe's Soul Grew Coarsep. 174
80.The Waterfall Strainersp. 176
81.A White Bride For The Son Of A Pullman Porterp. 180
82.Zah-Mah-Ki-Bop. 183
83.Dr. Schlichter Von Koenigswald Approaches The Break-Even Pointp. 185
84.Blackoutp. 187
85.A Pack Of Fomap. 189
86.Two Little Jugsp. 191
87.The Cut Of My Jibp. 194
88.Why Frank Couldn't Be Presidentp. 197
89.Dufflep. 199
90.Only One Catchp. 201
91.Monap. 203
92.On The Poet's Celebration Of His First Boko-Marup. 205
93.How I Almost Lost My Monap. 206
94.The Highest Mountainp. 210
95.I See The Hookp. 212
96.Bell, Book, And Chicken In A Hatboxp. 213
97.The Stinking Christianp. 216
98.Last Ritesp. 219
99.Dyot Meet Matp. 220
100.Down The Oubliette Goes Frankp. 223
101.Like My Predecessors, I Outlaw Bokononp. 225
102.Enemies Of Freedomp. 227
103.A Medical Opinion On The Effects Of A Writers' Strikep. 230
104.Sulfathiazolep. 232
105.Pain-Killerp. 235
106.What Bokononists Say When They Commit Suicidep. 237
107.Feast Your Eyes!p. 239
108.Frank Tells Us What To Dop. 240
109.Frank Defends Himselfp. 242
110.The Fourteenth Bookp. 244
111.Time Outp. 245
112.Newt's Mother's Reticulep. 248
113.Historyp. 250
114.When I Felt The Bullet Enter My Heartp. 252
115.As It Happenedp. 257
116.The Grand Ah-Whoomp. 259
117.Sanctuaryp. 261
118.The Iron Maiden And The Oubliettep. 263
119.Mona Thanks Mep. 267
120.To Whom It May Concernp. 270
121.I Am Slow To Answerp. 273
122.The Swiss Family Robinsonp. 275
123.Of Mice And Menp. 276
124.Frank's Ant Farmp. 279
125.The Tasmaniansp. 282
126.Soft Pipes, Play Onp. 284
127.The Endp. 286
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