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This Month’s Book: Vonnegut’s ‘Cat’s Cradle’

In an attempt to prove that musicians aren’t just products of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, SPIN.com has gathered together an eclectic group of literary-minded musicians to participate in our monthly online book club. Each month, a different artist will select a book that has impacted his/her music career and our club will read and discuss. We bring you the highlights. CURATED BY EMILY ZEMLER

This Month’s Selection:
Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut, 1963
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Selected by:
Ryland Blackinton, guitarist for Cobra Starship and Ivy League

Reason for Selection:
“I had decided to choose this darkly humorous fiction about two months ago when the book club started. Now, it seems, my selection has been made more apropos by the loss of this amazing author. I hope that this will please Vonnegut’s current fans and inspire those who are unfamiliar with him to get to the bookstore directly and make a literary investment. I hope this book makes lifelong Vonnegut fans of all who read it.”

Discussion highlights:

“Basically every brilliant person has been scrutinized and criticized for one thing or another, more often than not for the things that make them exceptional. The fact that a critic criticizes is to be expected. That is their job. It’s the lives you touch that will truly count in the end. So if Fox News is the biggest naysayer that Vonnegut is up against in his post mortem, I think that just reflects the talent that the man truly had.” – Michael Jurin, stellastarr*

“This is actually my first encounter with Vonnegut (I know…I know…I’ve already received plenty of slaps on the wrist), and this is also the first fiction piece I’ve read in a while…and I needed a change. I’m about three-fourths of the way through Cat’s Cradle, but rather than spark a discussion regarding the actual book itself I think the question regarding Fox News deserves some attention first…In the case of Vonnegut, Fox News is simply remiss in acknowledging the many people who have told me I’m an asshole for not reading his works earlier. I think that’s enough to invalidate them as a source of reliable information.” – Ryan Hunter, Envy On the Coast

“I’m about half way through the book… I am very interested in it and the direction it leads me. I must say that I have never read a book by Vonnegut either. What a silly man I am. His characters and developing relativities remind me of the writings of Tom Robbins. A great read so far… Wouldn’t it be funny to record a song out of all the Bokonon ditties?” – Drew Roulette, Dredg

“The only other book I’ve read by Vonnegut is Breakfast of Champions, which I loved, but for one reason or another haven’t picked up another book by him until now. And now I feel like I’ve been bitten. I guess Slaughterhouse Five is the one I should move on to? That’s what I hear anyway. I was thinking the other day that I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that screenwriter/auteurs like Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry were heavily influenced by Vonnegut. It feels like they are to me anyway.” – Isaac Lekach, Acute

“I finished it last night between a cup of coffee and an ambien and as the world became teetering and rubbery I accepted that the book I had just completed was what it was — that it felt very nice to read it and that I appreciated the way it sparked pleasant synapses in my brain. I would say that I fell into a very Bokononist unconsciousness. Now, on the other side of sleep, attempting to derive some discussable meaning from something that just made me go ‘mmhmm, yup, yup, haha, yeah, so true, yup, haha, yeah, oh that’s right!, yeah, yes!, haha yup…’ (and so on, and so forth), I realize that I am a pretty shitty Bokononist, and therefore a pretty shitty atheist, and sort of a shitty person as well. That’s what Bokononism strikes me as at least: a structured form of atheism. I love how Vonnegut will bring in an element like Bokononism or the Tralfamadorian ‘so it goes’ that changes the angle from which we are viewing ourselves and our cultures and our histories and the way we treat each other and the way we stress and stress and stress, so the absurdity of it all becomes so vivid.” – Dave Smallen, Street to Nowhere

“This is probably the theme of the book that I kept returning to the most — what it is that Bokononism is supposed to actually signify? I like that: ‘structured atheism.’ Although, the question then arises: Why have a structured atheism? Is it simply for the sake of making things a little smoother? Just some grease on the wheel of social and economic interaction? I guess I don’t know exactly what I mean to say, or even mean to ask, but I am super interested in this aspect of the book. Is Vonnegut secretly espousing some kind of Bokononism himself? Isn’t this a pretty good (fictional) explanation of what most moral, non-religious people believe? Or, if not believe, since it is all actually lies, the principles that govern so many people’s actions and attitudes?” – Dan Koch, Sherwood

“A structured atheism is damn funny. I began to wonder if Vonnegut may have intended to illustrate a young religion — a first generation religion, to show us quite nearly how Christianity, or any of the other major religions may have begun — with some intelligent humans writing books to knowingly fictionalize some hope for the masses. And perhaps this fictionalized hope was like Bokononism, quite self aware, in it’s earliest seed, and then through years of tradition, took on the bull-minded righteousness that people in large numbers can never seem to avoid.” – Shawn Harris, The Matches

Next month’s selection:
Wanna read the next book along with the SPIN.com book club? Pick up Jeremy Narby’s The Cosmic Serpent (BUY FROM AMAZON), selected by Colin Frangicetto of Circa Survive, and then check back here next month to see what the musicians thought and voice your own opinions!

Tags: Music News