I am reading Vonnegut’s novels again, sequentially, and have created my own sort of challenge to do so. This is his second work, and it more closely resembles the writing style I fell in love with. But this probably won’t make my favorites list when it’s all said and done.
There’s this wacky guy, Winston Miles Rumfoord, who is able to disappear and reappear through time and space, along with his dog Kazak. He’s a rich dude, and presumably richer because of the knowledge he’s able to glean from his time travel. He gets ahold of this guy Malachi Constant, who is this super spoiled rich guy who does nothing but party … I’m thinking of like a male Kardashian or something like that. He tells Constant that he will end up on Mars and end up having a child with his (Rumfoord’s) wife, Beatrice. Constant thinks he’s a crazy old coot and dismisses the idea entirely. And, in fact, goes out of his way to make sure this prediction does not come true.
However, of course it DOES come true and Constant becomes part of an army of brainwashed soldiers on Mars who are controlled by remote. Somehow he escapes and is able to seek out his wife and son. Indeed, his wife on Mars is Beatrice Rumfoord, just as predicted. Bee, as she is called, wants little to do with him even after he reveals he is the father of her child.
In true Vonnegut style there are some jabs at organized religion. (See: The Church of the God of the Utterly Indifferent). There are notions that we aren’t necessarily in control of our fate, or our actions, that it’s all part of some long predetermined script where we are merely actors.
I honestly believe you can read this novel at its base level, or you can read down deeper into some of the layers of complexity and both types of reads will leave you satisfied. If you let him, Vonnegut will just completely make your head explode with his world view because he is SO DEAD ON. But if you’d rather not think too much, he is there for you, as well.
I reside somewhere in the middle. I love his wit and I do grasp a lot of what he’s trying to do. But sometimes I just like to get on the ride and see where it takes me.
Up next: Mother Night!