Mother Night

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Mother NightMother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
Published: 1961

My fourth Vonnegut, and I’m more in love with his writing with each one. This is the fictional autobiography of Howard W. Campbell, who is being held in an Israeli jail for crimes against humanity. He was born in America and moved to Germany as a adolescent. As Hitler began gaining power, he stayed in the country and worked as a playwright, but as the war drew near he was approached by an American spy to work undercover for them. He worked on the radio, sending coded messages out under the cover of Nazi propaganda. Unfortunately, he was maybe too good at his job. He became famous through the broadcasts, known as the voice of the Third Reich.

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.

This was so good. Better than I was expecting. I hadn’t really heard much of this book, so while I assumed I’d enjoy it, I figured it wouldn’t be in the same league as Slaughterhouse-Five or Cat’s Cradle, but I’d say this is right up there with them. I’d be hard-pressed to choose a favourite of the three, and that’s saying a lot for this book.

It was engaging from the first page. I don’t know if it’s his writing style, or the situation Howard W. Campbell is in, or the unique angle in which we’re seeing that time in history. He’s so good that I’m not even really able to pick out why he is that good. I wanted to see how it played out, but I wasn’t sure how I wanted it to play out. He’s lived a morally ambiguous life, and he’s struggling with the choices he’s made, and you struggle along with him as you learn more about his life. I wasn’t just reading to see how others would judge him. I was reading to decide how I felt about him as well, which is an interesting experience.

I picked up And So it Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life , but I’ll probably read a couple more of his novels before I start that biography. I don’t have any on hand, but I think I’d like to pick up The Sirens of Titan next.

2 thoughts on “Mother Night

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