BOOK: TIMEQUAKE by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

A word of advice to any one starting out in creative writing: do not attempt to be anything like Kurt Vonnegut! You will only end up hurting yourself.

I am not quoting anyone in saying that, it comes entirely from me, and if anything, it's a memo to myself. Vonnegut is a rule-breaker. He is a writing equivalent to a jazz musician, who has devoted themselves to mastering the rules of music, that it becomes more interesting to hear them being being broken. Vonnegut has managed to twist and turn written language until it has become something entirely and uniquely his own. Any attempt at imitating his work without understanding the basic rules of English will result in superficially copying language anomalies and absorbing them as mistakes.

I wouldn't recommend it even for novice writers. Vonnegut was and always will be better than anyone in this contemporary age.

I feel I jumped into Timequake a little too early as, I later learned, it was his last novel, published ten years before he died in 2007. Then again it is probably the best place to start, as it is all about Kurt Vonnegut and his life, his books, life (in general) and books (in general). Getting Timequake out of the way first will definitely give you a better understanding of all his other written works when you explore them later on. It's just that this book has such a complex narrative, layered and meta, weaving in and out of fiction, non-fiction, and philosophical asides, it may be a little difficult to get into. So you'll have to excuse me if I'm a little bit confusing when I try and summarise the plot here.

Written when he was 73, it often felt like I was reading the ramblings of a senile old genius. The story is framed around a fictitious clambake on a beach at the writer's retreat Xanadu, in summer of 2001, six months after the timequake's rerun ended. The timequake itself was a glitch in the space-time continuum, that happened on February 13th 2001, that caused the Universe to go back in time nearly ten years to February 17h, 1991. Everything in the Universe had to run its exact course as it did before, even with the awareness that it's already been done, there was no free will during those second ten years.

At the clambake were a host of characters, real and fictitious, who were or were resembling Vonnegut's close friends and family, as well as himself. The clambake was a celebration for Kilgore Trout, a fictitious science-fiction writer who was also the alter-ego for Vonnegut, whom he created for his undying habit of constantly inventing short stories. The celebration wasn't for Kilgore Trout's writings, however, but for his intervention into the other character's lives by snapping them out of Post-Timequake Apathy (PTA).

PTA is when free will kicks in again after the timequake is over, but the person doesn't realise it and still acts as if their on automatic-pilot, which results in them falling down or being immobilised like a statue. The story of Kilgore Trout's intervention happens in Timequake One, the first version of this book, which Vonnegut decided to cut out the good parts and scrap the rest. He did all this before, of course, before the timequake hit and now he has to do it again.

In Timequake One, Kilgore Trout wrote many short stories, and Vonnegut relays a summary of a few of them, while providing anecdotes of his own. He relates friends and family he knew in his own life to the characters in the story, and it all builds up to a complex and climactic sequence of events that happened when the timequake ended, and free will kicked in again.

In trying to summarise this story, I realise how much I am in love with this book. It is the finest example of a literary novel I have ever read, and will hope to read again and again as I grow older. It contains everything about the world, life and death. I hope it is read by everybody, at some point in all of their precious lives.

UP NEXT: Scott Pilgrim vol's 1-6

I probably won't do a post on these books, as I'm planning to do a post on the movie. I'm just reading these now as I probably should if I'm going to talk in-depth about the movie at some point. So far as I've read, the books and the movie are quite radically different even if they are the same story.

I will also take a bit of a break from reading and focus on a bit of writing, and other stuff I want to work on.

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