Wednesday 4 July 2007

26. Mother Night

It's been a long time since I've read anything by Vonnegut - about ten years, I reckon. I made my way through a bunch of his stuff in my early 20s when I was studying hard and wanted to read for pleasure but was disciplined enough to take 10-minute reading breaks and then get back to business (ah, if only I could still do that!).

Vonnegut's work - Cat's Cradle in particular, as I recall - is perfect for very short bouts of reading: the chapters are short, the writing is clear and simple, and the ideas are uncomplicated.

I picked up Mother Night when Brook and I were in Thunder Bay over the weekend because I figured (correctly it turns out) that I'd finish Grim Tuesday early and be left with nothing to read on the plane home.

Mother Night is enjoyable in a short chapter, simple idea kind of way which is just what I wanted. Like most of Vonnegut's stuff though, I suspect I won't remember it in a few years.

This one's about a man named Howard Campbell who during WWII, masqueraded as a Nazi radio broadcaster in order to convey sensitive information to the Americans. After the war ended, he was disappeared and relocated and spent many years living in NYC without anyone's knowledge. He's been discovered though and is now considering how to flee. The US, after all, won't protect him from either local vigilantes or Israel who wants to try him for war crimes, because he was so effectively disguised as a Nazi and is hated by most and loved by only crazy neo-Nazis.

(Dave L. introduced me to Vonnegut in the early 90s when he lent me Slaughterhouse Five.)

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