28 January 2010

8. Slapstick

Slapstick - Kurt Vonnegut

I have a pile of Vonnegut books sitting on the shelf, so I figured I better read them once in a while. This one was on the top of the stack. It was chosen for no other reason than I was in a hurry to get to work and grabbed the top one to take with me.

While this is no Mother Night or Slaughter-house Five, it is a fun and interesting book.

I happen to like Vonnegut's writing style and the way he uses words. It felt like there were a million thoughts and he just wrote down whatever he was thinking at the time. Try to keep it all in some sense of chronology, but bounce it around a bit and let it flow. Throw in some anecdotes and some things totally out of left field once in a while. I am sure there is some literary term for what I am trying to describe.

This story is about a man who is some kind of freak who became President of the United States just before the country ceased to exist any longer. He was born to very rich parents, but was seriously ugly and "retarded", as was his twin sister. They have six fingers and six toes. They have neanderthalish features. They are much taller than normal people. The parents send the kids to live in a cocoon made out of a farm they own in Vermont. They are raised as a pair of really rich retarded children. They play the part very well, but are far from retarded.

The boy and girl find that they are actually super-geniuses as long as they put their heads together..literally. Problem being that he can read and write and she can't. She is able to process information and make links to connect events and theory, and he is totally ignorant in this area. He is the right side of the brain and she is the left. Together they are amazing. Apart, not so much.

There are a lot of interesting happenings in this story. Tiny Chinese people (a guy the size of a thumb is actually huge). Travels to Mars (where his sister died). Plagues that killed millions. The man even lives in the lobby of the Empire State Building with his grand-daughter and her lover. Gravity fluctuations that create some interesting scenarios.

I had never heard of this book until I picked it up. Now I find that it has been around since 1976. It was adapted into a movie in 1982 called "Slapstick of Another Kind", which I have also never heard of but will put it on my NetFlix que. Jerry Lewis was nominated for a Golden Raspberry award for Worst Actor for his role in the movie. I am sure it is a wonderful film. LOL
(Update: Slapstick is not available on NetFlix. I guess it really sucked.)


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