When I started to read this, I realized I had read it before back in the 1970s along with other Vonnegut classics such as "Slaughterhouse Five," "Sirens of Titan," "Cat's Cradle," and "God Bless You Mr. Rosewater." I hadn't read a Vonnegut since then but I am anxious to read more. "Mother Night" is a great satire giving the story of Howard W. Campbell, Jr., who was born in the U.S. and became a Nazi propagandist who broadcast during WWII. However, he was really a spy for the U.S. Government. Campbell narrates his own story as he sits awaiting trial for war crimes in an Israeli prison. The book is brilliant and full of gallows humor as Campbell reveals his ironic tale. (Campbell also makes a brief appearance in Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five"). High recommendation for this and any other Vonnegut.
Vonnegut is one of my favorite authors. While I didn't love this book as much as some of his other works, I found that it still held some truths about life, encased in an interesting story. One of the more interesting themes in this book is that we are who we pretend to be.
One of Vonnegut's most moving novels. This book deserves more attention.
This novel is simply Vonnegut at his best. As much as I enjoy a good romp in farce, this book has none: just tragedy and despair, writ large in a fashion only KV can make palatable, much less enjoyable.
To sum it all up: "People should be changed by world wars... else what are world wars for?"
And so it was with Kurt Vonnegut. War is a central theme in nearly all his novels, but this plot twist involves an American spy (maybe) who is caught up in his own web of propaganda-mongering, and, as most of KV's other tragic characters, as such, meets with fate, which is none too kind. I won't divulge all the twists and turns, but I will say that this is one of the most "real" books KV wrote, I think, much material having been drawn from life and no small amount from personal experience. For this one in particular, I wonder how much of this book involves quotes or anecdotes KV actually heard from other people, like the account of his aunt and the paperwork, the Jewish guard who helped hang Hoess, and the countless other brief passages which speak to startling realism. These are too profound to be invented-to me, they have to have been things people who experienced them actually told him at some time or other. He had his own deep well of experiences to draw from, to be sure, but all the details presented herein are too varied and diverse to be all his own. There are so many stories in him, and in the people whose words he records.
There's a lot more I want to say about this one, eventually, but I think the best course at present, until I've had time to ruminate a bit, is to let KV speak for himself. There is a veritable smorgasbord of quotables in this one.
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.
I remember some laughs about my aunt, too, who married a GERMAN German, and who had to write to Indianapolis for proofs that she had no Jewish blood. The Indianapolis mayor knew her from high school and dancing school, so he had fun putting ribbons and official seals all over the documents the Germans required, which made them look like eighteenth-century peace treaties.
There's another clear moral to this tale, now that I think about it: When you're dead, you're dead.
And yet another moral occurs to me now: Make love when you can. It's good for you.
...a man who served evil too openly and good too secretly, the crime of his times.
I felt the dust of the holy land creeping in to bury me, sensed how thick a dust-and-rubble blanket I would one day wear.
'I was like almost everybody who came through that war... I got so I couldn't feel anything... Every job was a job to do, and no job was any better or worse than any other. After we finished hanging Hoess [the commandant of the extermination camp at Auschwitz]... I packed up my clothes to go home. The catch on my suitcase was broken, so I buckled it shut with a big leather strap. Twice within an hour I did the very same job-once to Hoess and once to my suitcase. Both jobs felt about the same.'
'It's all I've seen, all I've been through...that makes it damn nearly impossible for me to say anything. I've lost the knack of making sense. I speak gibberish to the civilized world, and it replies in kind.'
To be to each other, body and soul, sufficient reasons for living, though there might not be a single other satisfaction to be had.
It's no doubt a great flaw in my personality, but I can't think in terms of boundaries. Those imaginary lines are as unreal to me as elves and pixies. I can't believe that they mark the end or the beginning of anything of real concern to a human soul. Virtues and vices, pleasures and pains cross boundaries at will.
This is a hard world to be ludicrous in, with so many human beings so reluctant to laugh, so incapable of thought, so eager to believe and snarl and hate.
I've heard a lot of bombs go off in my time, and they never impressed me much as a way to get things done.
Man, I think, is an infantry animal.
Plagiarism is the silliest of misdemeanors. What harm is there in writing what's already been written? Real originality is a capital crime, often calling for cruel and unusual punishment in advance of the coup de grace.
All people are insane. They will do anything at any time, and God help anybody who looks for reasons.
Meh. Once again Vonnegut fails to appeal.
Mother Night is the supposed tale of an American who worked for Germany during WWII, but had a double life of sorts as a spy. He was an English language broadcaster who was passing information out to the allies as part of his show. But what he did and said on his show was really awful. Supposedly this is supposed to make the reader think.
I found the presentation boring, and the lack of humor - supposedly one of Vonnegut's strengths - a real problem. That said, it wasn't bad, really, but it barely held my attention and didn't stick with me.
A blurb on the back cover says Mother Night is "in the Catch-22 vein." Had I known that in advance I wouldn't have wasted my time. I really didn't like Catch-22. Oh well.
Other than Cat's Cradle, though, it appears I am just not cut out for reading Vonnegut. I have one more on my TBR shelf. Maybe I'll get to it one of these days.
Dell 15853. Required reading in college. Kinda off the wall, but that's Vonnegut -- either you like him or not. Worth the read if you are curious.
cover not the same this is movie tie in