Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut

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Cannonball Read V: Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut

By Kayt | Book Reviews | January 30, 2013 | Comments ()


Galapagos explores an interesting question: what is the future of the human race one million years down the road?

Galapagos is a great novel, one of the last great novels of Kurt Vonnegut's career. Told from the perspective of the ghost of Leon Trout one million years in the future, it offers an upfront commentary on human nature and society that is scathing, comical and consistently fascinating. Trout died while building the Bahia di Darwin, the ship which would become the second Noah's Ark. He decides to stay a ghost, rather than venture into the afterlife, and observes the evolution of mankind from the passengers on this ship, to the flippered kin of the future.

The passengers, from who all of mankind one million years in the future is descended, consists of a Captain, an American widow, a Japanese woman and her daughter, a young blind girl, and six Kanka- Bono girls native to South America, each one with a funny or absurd back story. The book follows their journey from Ecuador to a remote island in the Galapagos, while the rest of civilization falls into shambles.

Although we don't specifically witness these scenes, we know that these people become the ancestors of all mankind ( what happens to the rest of humanity is a bit ambiguous, though there is brief mention of a fertility destroying disease), and mankind, over the course of one million years, adapts to the new environment, adaptations which include significantly smaller brains, and flippers, perfected for fishing purposes.

Vonnegut breaks the cardinal rule of any intro to writing class: show, don't tell, but he does so to brilliant effect. Trout tells most of the story, what will become of mankind, what has brought this odd myriad of characters together, but it never feels lacking. Vonnegut's precise, and humorous writing style, creates an engrossing, and immensely enjoyable read.

Vonnegut's trademark satire and social commentary, and almost addictive writing style are put to good use, in this interesting novel and I can not recommend it enough.

This review is part of the volunteer Cannonball Read V. Read all about it, and find more of Kayt's reviews on the group blog.

(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the affiliate links in this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • AsdffAnon

    This book sticks with you.

  • BWeaves

    I went through a Vonnegut phase in college (1970s) and read everything, and then got burned out. I haven't read anything of his since. I think it's time I picked this up. Thanks for reminding me he still exists.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I love this book. I have particular visuals of scenes from this book, which I remember even a decade later, which isn't common for me.

    I love all of Vonnegut. I went on a tear the summer I first discovered him, reading 7 or 8 before getting too depressed. I only pick up a book of his every few years now, but I need to get back to it. I almost don't understand how I can love so deeply writing which makes me feel such despair - except that his humor, directness and simplicity make it seem possible to survive all the terrible idiocy of mankind.

  • KatSings

    I love Vonnegut, but haven't read this one yet. I'll need to change that. :-)

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