Brad’s Big Book Queue 2017 Book #3 of 25
Galápagos, by Kurt Vonnegut
I’ve come to learn that Kurt Vonnegut is an acquired taste, but once you get a worthy dose of his wit and style you’re either put-off or full-in. I’ve dropped myself neatly into the second camp, so having just finished Galápagos, I’m pretty sure a few more of his books will feature in my year as I strive to catch up with his collection.
The book is an odd sort of tale: a science fiction-ish novel told from a million years the far future, about the current day (at least at the time of publishing thirty years ago) about how the devolution of the human race branched from a kind of forced punctuation in the not-so-equilibrium of the modern world. Societal and biological collapse wipe out the prospects for humanity, save for a small group of random people who escape on a boat destined for exactly where they ultimately take it, albeit for a very different original purpose: a cruise to the Galápagos Islands is marooned on one of the islands after fleeing World War 3.
The book, in typical Vonnegut style is told as if you were reading a comic book that had been chewed up in a lawnmower and then taped back together again by someone who had never read it before it was mangled: but somehow it all works, and the choppy flow — these, this, then oh that, then but I need to tell you about this other thing, before we go back to that again — compels one to keep reading in an attempt to see the whole jigsaw picture at the end.
The jigsaw reveals a story about humanity and what it means to be such, and ponders the questions about how we view ourselves and what we think are the things that define us versus what might nature choose differently for us across a span of a million more years, given the option. The Darwinian setting is the bow on top.
I’ve changed my mind on the “something more lengthy” idea. I picked up a few recent books over the holidays that I think I want to push through first. One of these is called Sleeping Giants by debut novelist Sylvain Neuvel, and yes, it’s another science fiction novel, recommended by Amazon and Goodreads, and basically stolen for my Kindle as one of their Boxing Day daily deals for a couple bucks.
It intrigued me. So, read on…