Fiction Reviews


(1997) Kurt Vonnegut, Jonathan Cape, 15.99, hrdbk, 219pp, ISBN 0-224-03640-8

Widely publicised, not least by Vonnegut himself, as his last novel, this is a delightful read and a charming, humourous and intelligent perspective on life. Vonnegut has his fans, and they won't be disappointed by this; but there are some who just don't get it. Perhaps they expect something else from a 'real' novel, which means they've missed the obvious from the word go; perhaps they dislike the non-linearity of the narrative, or the quirkiness in Vonnegut's observations, or even the generally good-natured worldview that permeates his work. I don't know. I just think that their missing out on reading one of the 20th century's good guys.

So, there's this timequake, and everybody is condemned to live the last ten years of their life through again, without being able to change any of it, but with full knowledge of what will happen. Then it's over, and Kilgore Trout has become something of a celebrity... Cue Kurt giving you a bit more detail on his own strange and interesting journey through life. And to think this is a man who cannot find a use for the semi-colon; I use them all the time...

Tony Chester

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