Monday, August 4, 2014

Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut - Book Review

Mother NightMother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked up Mother Night after reading Maus. There is one major, dreadful, heartrending thread that binds these two books together:


While Maus paints a deeper and detailed picture of what it would have been on those unimaginable, worse-than-hell grounds, Mother Night superficially mentions it. But this outwardly treatment is done by Kurt Vonnegut in his own melancholy-inducing stylish humour. Very few authors can write war humour so well as Kurt Vonnegut does. His humour has the power to make you realize the degree of destruction caused by a war and the effect it has on humans. Both the victor and the vanquished.

Vonnegut’s proud characters, unfolding of events, and the subtle humour stitches together a meaningful tale in the form of Mother Night. Here we listen to or read Howard J. Campbell’s memoir about the way he pretended to pretend during war times and weaved together a complex identity for himself. How things tumble down during and after World War 2 for him and how the seeds he has sown grow into trees that creep towards him and pull him back to tangle him upside down by the hanging roots. I also loved his talk about the little "Nation of two."

As Vonnegut describes very early in the book the moral of this story is: "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." The intensity behind this apparent "moral" becomes jarringly obvious as we trod along the story through the little twists and turns.

Compared to his other works like Slaughterhouse-Five, Cats in the Cradle, and Sirens of Titan, Mother Night is more grounded and is without the grandiosity (sometimes interplanetary!) of the other books. It is definitely a lovely little book, if you can describe a WW2-related book as lovely. I will certainly be returning to Vonnegut books again when I become older and maybe a bit more eccentric to enjoy the books even more than I do today.

Till then...

P.S.: One of the other vivid moments I recall from the book is the incident about the corpse-carrier. It still keeps haunting me thinking about how dreadful WW2 must have been for some. Just to think that people survived hell... and oh what a hell that must have been. It's really sad when people used WW2 related jokes when the German team won the football world cup this year (2014), specially the earlier semifinal against Brazil. Indians joking about WW2 and the German war juggernaut? Do you even know what you are talking about?

View all my reviews

No comments: