My Hospital, July (2018), reading list: Vonnegut

⇠ Back to Blog:Fabrice

Slaughterhouse-Five is Vonnegut's masterpiece, and the second book of him I read (after Cat's cradle). I enjoyed it so much I naturally turned to the rest of his work, with the anxiety that the minor pieces would not be up to the famous ones (a problem with every author). Vonnegut is a peculiar writer, with strange sci-fi plots and uncanny characters whose recurrences throughout his work make you feel there is a thread to follow. Reading the synopsis of his works does not really make you crave to read them. The titles, in particular, are, to my taste, extremely poor. Even the book covers are, for some reason, repelling. It looks like every care has been taken by both the author and the people in charge of his marketing to make you flee away. It all changes, however, when you open the book and start reading.

A sum of money is a leading character in this tale about people, just as a sum of honey might properly be a leading character in a tale about bees.

So I jumped ahead and read what seemed to me the most likely topic of interest: Mother Night. As in everything Vonnegut, the topic itself is however of little importance. The underlying human nature and human's perception of what happens, in the case of Vonnegut, of whatever happens, be it a sex scene in a humane zoo on a different planet or the molesting of a drunk unarmed nazi-hunter chasing you, penned in this personal style that makes you feel in your own stream of consciousness rather than pinned to a page-turner, this is what it is all about. Given that each new read makes me feel always more familiar and increasingly enjoying the work as a whole, I now have a deep belief that every single novel he wrote will be likewise a unique and personal experience. In my current situation of having to spend a lot of time in a hospital, and finding it painful to put aside a Vonnegut masterpiece for a fine, but nowhere to be compared (in my case, Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt's) work (?!), without transition as is the case when you're stuck in a bed, I have decided to go for a Vonnegut marathon. This is the works we have selected with Elena, in the courtyard of the La Paz hospital, mainly based on their availability and ease of localization from a mobile phone. Any title will have done. I'm pretty sure I'll read them all, eventually.

⇠ See also the previous reading list.
⇢ See also the next reading list.