There’s a lot of this that feels like a parody, but if it’s a parody, I don’t know of what. Of art that tries to take itself too seriously? Of humanity that tries to take itself too seriously? That feels more like it.
It took me a while to get into this. The only other Vonnegut I’ve read was Cat’s Cradle which, I have to admit, I hated. Turns out that someone who spends a disproportionate amount of time worrying about existential threats doesn’t enjoy fiction that adds a new one.
Once I got started, though, I was mostly good; I’d call this book “barely fictional,” in that the setting is absolutely historically accurate, the only real liberty taken with actual history being the introduction of a couple new characters into the abstract impressionist movement, and done in such a way that doesn’t have much of an impact. I did, for a while, fall out of the book again—there’s a section near the middle where the protagonist’s trust is betrayed in a way that I found painful to even contemplate. Which, hey, makes this an effective piece of art!
In light of that, I feel honestly a little annoyed with how well the end of the book delivers. I was so prepared to be unhappy with the end of the book, but no, it was great. I guess there’s a reason Vonnegut is one of The Greats, or whatever.
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