04 February 2013

One-Star Revue: Kurt Vonnegut, THE SIRENS OF TITAN

In my experience most people tend to go to extremes on Vonnegut: Either they love him and everything he wrote, or they just don't care for him at all, which is why I was surprised that Amazon had so many glowing reviews of THE SIRENS OF TITAN and so few negative ones. Does no one share the middle ground with me?

I loved SLAUGHTER-HOUSE FIVE, liked BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS and found THE SIRENS OF TITAN challenging, in some ways timeless, but overly long and frustrating. The ending of this book is one of the most depressing endings in literature (possible future list fodder?); when it was over I just wanted to lie down for a little bit and avoid all my loved ones, because what is the point of anything? I respected it a little more in the end for being able to elicit such a strong reaction from me, but I can't endorse it for the same reason. Some of the one-star reviews reflected the existential crisis I had.

Anyway, there wasn't a lot to choose from but so it goes:
  • "You will laugh occasionally. However, your hit ratio will be worse than your average 'Saturday Night Live.'" Recent or early?
  • "Vonnegut has a very vivid imagination. This work is way too science fiction! It is so far out there, that it is almost impossible to read." Always start with a compliment.
  • "This book put me off this great author for a while."
  • "I hated every page of it and read it only as I was looking for something I never found. I do not recommend buying it ever for any price. I'll send you mine free."
  • "Imagine if you will that the charmingly witty, earthy characters from Irving's A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY were overrun by a pack of ugly rabid dogs in the first chapter, and then you had to listen to *why* rabid dogs were rabid dogs, and *why* it's bad to be bitten, ad nauseum. And then watch the characters run around independently, biting other random characters..." Must we bring John Irving into this?
  • "It's much easier and less scary to just fawn all over Kurt and pretend to be a smart person who understands a special insight that just isn't there." Ah yes, the old emperor-has-no-clothes argument.

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