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january’s read: the sirens of titan

January 31, 2012

I have a friend who enjoys reading Kurt Vonnegut so much, that he even got the familiar “asterisk” associated with the author, tattooed on his arm. I, of course, had heard of Vonnegut, but had never read any of his books; so, based on my friend’s recommendation, I decided to pick one up. I chose The Sirens of Titan, one of Vonnegut’s earlier novels, although I have since discovered that Slaughterhouse-Five, loosely based on his experience as a pow in a Nazi concentration camp, is his most renowned work.

I should begin by saying that most of the philosophies purported by Vonnegut in The Sirens of Titan, do not align with my personal beliefs; however, the story itself is extremely engaging. According to Vonnegut, when writing a story, “Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.” This is definitely the case in The Sirens of Titan, from the man who has everything, to the man who has nothing, and even the man who is controlling their lives for the sake of a larger purpose, only to find out that he himself is being controlled. The novel is hard to put down, with descriptions that elicit sympathy for the plight of mankind in his search for purpose, scenarios that are downright creepy, and quotes that leave one with food for thought. Here are a few:

“I tell you even a half-dead man hates to be alive and not be able to see any sense to it.”

“Boaz now used three magical words that seemed to describe the maximum happiness a person could achieve on Earth: Hollywood night clubs. He had never seen Hollywood, had never seen a night club.”

“Somebody made everything for some reason.”

“I found me a place where I can do good without doing any harm, and I can see I’m doing good, and them I’m doing good for know I’m doing it, and they love me…. I found me a home.”

“Somebody up there likes you.”

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