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This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of Kurt Vonnegut's many masterpieces, Cat's Cradle.
Vonnegut's massive body of work has multiple revolutionary pieces, including Slaughterhouse Five, Breakfast of Champions, and more life-shaking short stories than Dr. Seuss has rhymes. Now on its anniversary, here are the reasons you should read, or re-read, Cat's Cradle.
Firstly, Bokonism. Throughout Cat's Cradle, Vonnegut weaves the intricacies of an island-culture-based religion called Bokonism. None of the characters claim to believe in the teachings of Bokonon, but many adhere to the oddities decreed in his Book of Bokonon. Vonnegut employs the religion to sprinkle tidbits of genius philosophy while building a cult-like vocabulary for Vonnegut-enthusiasts. Read Cat's Cradle and you'll know what I mean when I say Foma or Boko-Maru.
Next, the Hoenikkers. The main character of the novel is writing a piece on the proclaimed father of the atomic bomb, Dr. Hoenikker. Dr. Hoenikker was also the father of a midget, a socially-inept power monger, and a motherly homely girl. None of the offspring are as intelligent as the father, but they inherent his dangerous legacy of weaponry. The narrator uncovers the story of all too human people possessing all-powerful technology.
Finally, the shirking of genre. Vonnegut was a literary writer sometimes shoved into sci-fi shelves. He cared more about character and plot than cramming his book to fit the expectations of either genre. As a result, he brought character driven stories to technology- and science- grounded settings. By embracing elements from both genres, especially in Cat's Cradle, Vonnegut expanded our thoughts on the human condition and the modern world.
Like all of Vonnegut's work, Cat's Cradle serves the blackest of humors in an eye-opening way. Even at 50-years since its publication, current events make it more relatable than ever.