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Keep It Going, Keep Me Going

By Kriegerfrau | Books | June 7, 2010 |

By Kriegerfrau | Books | June 7, 2010 |

This is one of a few Vonnegut works I hadn’t read, and I discovered a badly tattered copy in the back of a closet recently. I inherited every Vonnegut I have from my stepfather, who worshipped him.

This one is written from the first-person point of view of Harold Campbell, Jr., an American by birth who grew up in Germany and was a playwright and married to a beautiful German woman when he was approached by an American colonel and asked if he would spy for the US.

But in order to spy on the level they wanted him to, he would have to go full undercover—become not just a member of the Nazi party, but the best, most enthusiastic, most capable, most anti-Semitic Nazi party official EVER. Campbell is telling his story in the form of a memoir written from an Israeli prison years after the war is over. He recounts becoming a spy, how talented he was, and what happened in the years between the war and his current imprisonment, which he asked for.

It had some surprising twists and turns and I appreciated that—a lot is known about WWII, but Vonnegut seemed to keep it fresh, never lecturing about the war, but using Campbell to speak for him (if you know enough about Vonnegut, you can almost hear him at times). The pacing is nice and brisk and unless I’m reading someone whose turn of phrase is gorgeous or who has a particular talent at detailing a scene, this is something I fully appreciate as a reader. Keep it going, keep me going.

I won’t ruin the ending for anyone wanting to read this—it was not as pat or predictable as I thought it would be, which made me love the book even more. I can say I still haven’t read anything by Vonnegut I haven’t liked thoroughly. Yes, it’s about the war, but there’s a dark humor in Campbell’s persona that never allows the narrative to feel heavy or morbid. At 192 pages, it’s a nice summer page-turner.

The following review is part of the Cannonball Read series. For more of Kriegerfrau’s reviews, check out her blog.