Sunday, October 12, 2008

Galapagos, by Kurt Vonnegut

I read this book twenty years ago, back when I was still a sailor. I even remember the guy I borrowed it from; he was an Aegis tech.

I don't want to go into too much detail, as this is one of those books you might just pick up and read. Though considered intellectual enough to be taught in school, Vonnegut is also readable enough that you can take his books to the beach. I recommend this one.

One interesting tidbit though: when I originally read it, I completely missed the fact that there was a disease in the plotline. I won't go into it in detail, as I don't want to ruin it, but suffice it to say that the novel has so much going on that the disease is a minor, though important point.

When we took the quiz on this book, we answered ten questions about it. Then, the professor asked us for any interesting suggestions for extra-credit questions. I, of course, brought up this disease in an oblique way, asking what it was responsible for.

The entire class groaned. I think I was probably the only one who caught this plot-point. It is, after all, only two or three lines in the novel.

No, I'm not smarter than all those young people. I am, however, probably the only person who had read this before. Also, like spotting a bolide meteor, it was a matter of luck, and having your eyes facing the right way at the right time.

This makes me wonder what else I've missed, the first time around. For example, I had to watch "Raiders of the Lost Ark," two or three times before I realized the importance of the bad-guy's burnt hand (and the fact that they didn't have the reverse side of the gold thing).

One final thought on Vonnegut: I remember the movie "Back to School," where Rodney Dangerfield decides to attend the same college his son is attending. At one point, Rodney is using his staff from his business to do his schoolwork. The son says, "I still don't know who you're going to get to do your Kurt Vonnegut report."

A knock on the door, and Kurt Vonnegut is there, in the flesh. The funniest part is that Dangerfield's English professor flunks him on the report, saying, "I don't know who you got to write this paper, but he doesn't know the first thing about Kurt Vonnegut's work."

Higher praise for Kurt Vonnegut, I cannot imagine.

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