Mother Night : A Review

This was my first real look at satire, and a pretty good beginning.

Mother Night by American writer Kurt Vonnegut is a surreal, sarcastic account of Howard J. Campbell Jr.’s antics during the Second World War- of how he finds himself talked into being a propagandist for Nazism, and the eventualities that all but destroy his private life. A bizarre series of circumstances takes him through Germany, Greenwich Village and finally to Israel, where he stands trial for his ‘crimes’. His life is spectacularly distorted and taken over by impostors as he tries to find something to rejoice in; whatever little semblance of meaning it possesses is completely destroyed.

This is not a book that you try to believe in, but the language hits you hard. There are lines you will choose to remember, ‘morals’ that you’ll want to think over. You won’t be made to cringe and weep over the atrocities of the Nazis and the endless carting of people into the concentration camps to meet death in the gas-chambers- there are no gory descriptions as such- but you’ll still find yourself affected deeply by the cold callousness of human beings and the insanity of it all. Satire doesn’t make light work of matters of seriousness- it can actually be a very effective way of drawing attention to certain stark realities.

More Vonnegut? I’m game.

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Posted on January 24, 2010, in Books. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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