Book: Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
Date Read: November 18 to December 10, 2021
Rating: 5 (of 5) stars
Every time I read Vonnegut, I end up feeling a little content and a little unsettled. While it seems a bit of a conundrum, it’s not all that bad of a place to be. Nearing the end of 2021, I was trying to wrap up all the prompts from the Unread Shelf Project to get a “bingo blackout” for the year. One prompt that has always been difficult for me is to choose a book from your favorite genre—I am not entirely sure what to call my favorite genre. So with that in mind, I figured that Vonnegut would fit the bill.
One of the things that I love about reading Vonnegut is that while he tends to stick to very similar themes of humanity, he manages to take you by surprise with the unique ways he presents this in each of his books. In this case, we are taken on a journey of over a million years into the past—all the way back to 1986, the year when a series of coincidences combined with Darwin’s theory of evolution to save the fate of humanity. The retrospective is told from the only one left who would be able to tell it: a ghost who has been hanging around since the fall of man to see it all play out.
The ghost narrator lends an interesting aspect to the story that is different than any of the other books I’ve read from Vonnegut. While the story begins as if it were a history, the narrator gives hints throughout about things that have changed in the million years he has been watching humans—we never get a completely clear picture, but enough to piece things together. The contrasts here reminded me of something that was included in one of the later Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books: humans believe that we are the superior beings on earth because of our technological advances, while other intelligent animals like dolphins just muck about and play in the water all day; dolphins know they are the superior beings for exactly the same reason.
Boris’s Thoughts: “It sounds like he was on to the reasoning of how cats know we are really the ones in charge. Suspicious. 3 paws.”