Vonnegut's Best and Worst?

Of those I’ve read thus far, Cat’s Cradle is the best, with Slaughterhouse Five a close second.

The worst would be Deadeye Dick, which was too relentlessly depressing to finish.


Vonnegut’s one of those authors I read as a teenager, then never bothered to read again. I’m not sure I would want to; better to keep the rosy memories intact. I tried reading Richard Brautigan again and ended up with the ol’ “Whoa…this guy really sucks! How much dope was I SMOKING, anyway?” reaction.

Anyway, I was a teenager so long ago that Vonnegut only went up to BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS. So, of his pre-1973 work, I’d have to agree that CAT’S CRADLE is the best. It’s the one I’m most tempted to read again, in any case. I may have enjoyed THE SIRENS OF TITAN more, but that was for the storytelling, rather than the Total Reading Experience.

The worst? Probably MOTHER NIGHT.

Aside: Anyone else remember the Dell mass market editions from the '60s-70s?
CAT’S CRADLE was the red one.
GOD BLESS YOU, MR. ROSEWATER was the blue one.
PLAYER PIANO was the yellow one.
SIRENS OF TITAN was the purple one.
MOTHER NIGHT was the black one.
WELCOME TO THE MONKEY HOUSE was the brown one.

Was there a green one? An orange one? Which am I not remembering?

I’ve not read Sirens or Cat’s Cradle.

So I’d say Slaughterhouse was the best and Mother Night was not.

But in the movie versions, Mother Night was better than {i]Slaughterhouse Five*, though the Valerie Perrine factor keeps it from being a blowout.

Currently my favorite is Breakfast of Champions. This changes, however, depending on which one I have read most recently.

I’ll have to also go with Cat’s Cradle. I also liked Slaughterhouse Five, Breakfast of Champions, God Bless You Mr. Rosewater, and Mother Night. Palm Sunday, a collection of essays, was also good, IMHO.

I tried reading Player Piano, but for some reason just couldn’t get into it. Likewise for Galapagos. I’ve got Timequake, but haven’t had a chance to read it yet. Any opinions?

Spiritus, I have to agree with your movie review of Mother Night and Slaughterhouse Five. Breakfast of Champions with Bruce Willis, Nick Nolte, and Albert Finney as Kilgore Trout was a disappointment, though.

You have a talent for understatement.

For me it was “Sirens of Titan” at the top and “Cat’s Cradle” a close second. This will periodically reverse depending on my mood (to me Vonnegut is an author who writes to the mood). “Cat’s Cradle” is definitely the easiest to read.

I tend to agree with “Player Piano” being weak and “Mother Night” too.

In a great many ways “Timequake” is a throw back to Vonnegut’s earlier works although it lacks that intellectual hope that seemed to float somewhere below the surface of “Cradle,” “Monkey House” and “Titan” and even, I suppose, “Slaughterhouse Five.”

I mean, you always knew the protagonist was going to lose in a Vonnegut novel, but you always pulled for him to break even and thumb his nose at the Universe in spite of that.

Vonnegut, himself, does wander in and out of “Timequake” more than any other of his novels.

As for movies or comic books…Well, that’s not what any of them were designed for.

I am amazed that nobody pointed to Hocus Pocus as one of the best. ITs personally my favorite book and hysterical in its irony.

It doesnt take a genius to go to Slaughterhouse Five (Another classic but the obvious choice) or Cat’s Cradle (A good read, although just not as interesting as the other two).

If you havent read Hocus Pocus, get it–it will be worth the effort I assure you.

AS for the worst, Timequake sucked pretty bad. If we were going by movies, Breakfast of Champions was terrible.

i love mother night. back off.

I’m one of those people who can appreciate that Vonnegut is a great writer…I can understand and recognize the intelligence and genius in his writing, but to me, his books are just plain weird. So, for me, it kind of depends on how you would define “best” and “worst”.

For me, I would say Cat’s Cradle is the best, meaning I enjoyed the story and was basically able to follow it, although it was still weird. The worst would be Timequake in that it was completely weird, incredibly hard to follow and not very enjoyable as a result.

Also, Breakfast of Champions as a book, falls somewhere in the middle as being pretty weird but somewhat enjoyable and easy to follow. The MOVIE, however…yeesh. What a total piece of crap! It was even weirder than the book. I guess you just have to have the right taste for Vonnegut. He’s definitely not for everybody.

I just completed a VERY long, VERY important English paper on Vonnegut. (We get our grades back today, EEK!)
We were supposed to read three books from our author, but I ended up reading about eight. Of those eight, I liked Cat’s Cradle, Hocus Pocus, SlaughterHouse Five, and God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian the most. Mother Night and Deadeye Dick were my least favorites, but I found things to like in all of them, and not just because I had too, either.

My favorite Vonnegut work is that valedictory address he gave, you know, the one about sunscreen. What? Really? No! Really? :slight_smile:

I truly loved Time Quake; very much shows his capacity for holding a mirror up to our society and having us truly mock that which we have created. For some reason (I hope this isn’t blasphemous) I was not huge for Breakfast and was luke warm for Slaughter House. I read Slapstick waaaaaaaay back in high school. It was very different in that it was very much a tribute to his sister, with whom he had been very close, and who had just died of (breast?) cancer. This was also the first book he had penned under the name “Kurt Vonnegut”, dropping the “Jr.” that had adorned his previous works. While I wouldn’t consider it to be one of his better books, I think it’s truly remarkable given the context in which it was written. (does that make any sense?)

Big fan here. I own everything up thru Galapagos. And this includes Wampeters, Foma, and Granfalloons. I guess my favorites are the ones I re-read on a regular basis. That would be: [ul] [li]Sirens Of Titan []Jailbird []Mother Night [/ul][/li]
Deadeye Dick and Bluebeard are 2 that I’ll never read again.

Sirens of Titan is my personal favorite Vonnegut book. I have it as one of my Staff Favorites at my bookstore. I think the scene where the preacher is exclaiming about how god doesn’t care about humanity, amen!, is what got me.

Since I couldn’t get past page three, I’d say that Player Piano is the worst.

I rather enjoyed Galapagos. But I think BoC or CC would be my fave. SH-5 is probably his most important work. I haven’t yet read them all, but so far, PP is at the bottom. I couldn’t get much past page 3 either.

I remember kinda liking PLAYER PIANO, back when I was 15 or so. The “Reeks and Wrecks” corps has stuck with me. And the fact that everyone was a “doctor” still tickles me.

Don’t forget…PP was published in 1951, and was a bit of a one-off. KV didn’t get another book published until SIRENS in 1958, and that was as a paperback original. So PP stands alone amongst the oeuvre.

Right! BLUEBEARD was the other one that I didn’t think was so great.
Thanks for reminding me, Scarred.

I just finished my first Vonnegut novel, Hocus Pocus. I absolutly loved the novel. I find myself quoting it all the time now. I refrence it too. It took me a bit longer to get through that book than most books I read, but I think that is why I like it so much. It makes you think.

I love Hocus Pocus and Slaughterhouse 5 best. I reread them as often as possible, although it’s been a while since school started - I’m taking three Lit classes and reading so much for work I never get to read for pleasure.

My least favorite was Timequake, but I’m going to try and read it again anyway. It was my very first Vonnegut, and frankly, I had no fucking idea what I was reading for the first hundred pages or so. My Lit 150 professor got me hooked, and told me to return Timequake to the library and try Hocus and Slaughterhouse.

I’ve read Sirens of Titan and liked it an awful lot; I will steadfastly avoid Bluebeard and Deadeye Dick from now on. Unfortunately, those are the only four I’ve read - I just discovered Vonnegut last year, and as I said, though I love what I’m reading for my classes, the amount of reading is so huge that if I get a moment to myself, I’m watching Friends.