Review From User :

Slapstick begins with a prologue that I won't hesitate to rank among Vonnegut's absolute best writing. It is honest, it is tenderhearted, it is sad and funny and bittersweet. It also provides an explicit key to deciphering the novel that follows, which is unusual. In another author's hands such a trick might seem overeager and embarassing. But Vonnegut does as he always does and makes the silly and embarrassing work gracefully towards his purposes-presenting his thoughts so concisely and so cheerily that it is impossible not to feel a groundswell of emotion and a firm, immediate rapport. Vonnegut knew what it was to be human, with all the messy ugly parts and all the beautiful triumphant parts and all the messy parts that become beautiful because they are real and essential to us.

As his 8th novel out of 14, I guess we'd place this one into his "middle era" and Slapstick is written in the staccato style I most often associate with Vonnegut's later books. Assuming his aim was to provide plenty of places to stop for reflection along the way, I took the opportunity to read this book slowly: a dozen pages a day or so, with lots of space between each of those pages to feel, to think about what made me feel that way, and then to feel again what thinking about feeling that way made me feel. It was pleasant, but potent.

This is Vonnegut, so there are quotable "zingers" all along the way (as usual). But it's also an exercise in actively caring (again as usual). Truth be told I need all the gentle reminders I can get to be a kind and decent person in this world we occupy. Vonnegut doles those reminders out liberally, and with more explicit comedy here than I recall in his other works.

I do have some criticism for this book, but when I go to write it down it seems trivial in comparison with the big feelings that it stirred up in me. About the most severe thing I can bring myself to say is this: it's not Vonnegut's strongest novel and it is cruder than his greatest hits.

But still, emphatically: 5 stars out of 5. There's a cliché frequently passed around parenting circles: "Find Your Tribe." For years I've dismissed it as empty pablum, but Vonnegut just made it real to me.

Category: General Fiction, Sci-Fi

Wilbur Swain and his twin sister Eliza are so hideous, helpless and vile in their infancy that their parents are forced to rear them in the seclusion of a nearby asteroid. But behind their idiotic facade, this monstrous pair possess a joint intelligence capable of outstripping the most advanced computers…

Manhattan has become the Island of Death. The former President of the United States stands barefoot in a purple toga around a cooking fire in the lobby of the Empire State Building. He is Dr Wilbur Daffodil-II Swain and Slapstick is his story – one of monstrous twins, orgies, revenge, golf, utopian schemes, and very little tooth brushing. In this post-apocalyptic black comedy – dedicated to Laurel and Hardy – Vonnegut is at his most hilarious, grotesque, and personal.


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