Alone You Can’t Make Amends

Truth?  With the craziness of wedding planning, I really didn’t have much time to read during 2013.  (Or, if I actually had time, I couldn’t concentrate or stay awake long enough to read more than a few pages.)  

That being said, I’m still sharing reviews from books I read back in 2012.  I’m only admitting this with the hope that I can somehow shame myself into reading more next year (and perhaps finally complete the 50 book challenge!).

I know I mentioned before that I read several Kurt Vonnegut books last year, but I’ve only reviewed a couple of them so far on this blog.  This week I’ll be reviewing another.

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Image courtesy of http://www.vonnegutreview.com.

Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut

250 pages

The back of this book really didn’t tell me much about it.  It simply reads:

At 2:27 p.m. on February 13th of the year 2001, the Universe suffered a crisis in self-confidence.  Should it go on expanding indefinitely?  What was the point?

Reading this, I imagined Timequake might be a bit more science-fictionesque than some of his other work.  I was really surprised as I started reading, then, to discover that this was a semi-autobiography.  I say semi because he mixes in a fictional story with his real life and real opinions.  Not only that, but he writes the real stuff in such a whimsical way that it’s often difficult to distinguish how much is fact and how much is fiction.

I have sort of a love-hate relationship with biographies, autobiographies, journals, memoirs, etc.  Part of me loves having the opportunity to see into the life of someone I admire and/or think is interesting.  Another part of me just doesn’t like the fact that it’s sometimes difficult to determine whether or not things have been dramatized to make the person’s life seem more interesting.  I mean, if I’m going to read non-fiction, I want it to actually be non-fiction.  I’ve definitely read and enjoyed several biographies, autobiographies, journals, and memoirs over the years … These just aren’t necessarily my top choices when selecting a book to read.

That being said, I actually enjoyed Timequake quite a bit.  It was funny and weird and, despite my earlier comment regarding dramatization, I liked the fact that Vonnegut decided to mix fact and fiction.  It was a very different approach to an autobiography (though, honestly, I don’t think it was initially intended to be one … In fact, in the prologue he mentions that this was the second version of Timequake, saying the first “wasn’t even fit for shark chum”).

It’s difficult to really discuss the plot of this book because, well, there wasn’t much of one.  Basically, as the back of the book said, the Universe suffered a crisis in self-confidence.  Instead of continuing to expand, it shrunk a bit … In doing so, everyone and everything was sent back 10 years.  The catch?  There is no free will.  Those 10 years will be played out just as they were … Nothing can be changed, no one can be saved, etc.  Everyone is simply on autopilot.  This is obviously Vonnegut poking fun at the way we all live our lives much of the time.  It’s actually pretty depressing when you think about it that way.

Although it didn’t have much of a true plot, Timequake kept me interested due to the anecdotes and humor Vonnegut peppered throughout the book.  The only real issue I had with the book was that it was very choppy.  It was kind of interesting, as it was almost as though I had stumbled upon his personal journals filled with his random thoughts and opinions … It was just a little hard to follow.  I think if I hadn’t pushed through and kept reading large chunks of the book at a time, I would’ve gotten frustrated with it.

It’s difficult to say whether or not I would recommend this book.  I think it would depend on the person.  If the person was a fan of Kurt Vonnegut, I would definitely recommend Timequake.  Otherwise, I think it would depend on the person’s personal taste … If they were looking for something funny and quirky or perhaps something that would give them a little more insight into the life of an author, this would certainly fit the bill.  If, however, they were looking for a true autobiography or a true novel, this wouldn’t be the book for them.

I also don’t know if I would reread Timequake … I kind of think it wouldn’t have the same effect the second time around.  I’m glad I read it, but I can’t imagine that I’ll have a strong desire to read it again in the future.

Timequake gets THREE STARS from me.

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