ENG 590: “Wampeters, Foma + Granfalloons”

This is a collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s speeches and essays, all collected under the title Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons, which are three words from Cat’s Cradle that Vonnegut invented.

This is a particularly tricky book to talk about, because I’m so far removed from it that I don’t really remember everything I read. I will talk about the one entry I do remember very well. This isn’t going to be a very long entry because of that.

First of all, there is one work of fiction in this collection, which is “Fortitude.” It focuses on the rights of a cyborg, according to its Wikipedia page. A Dr. Frankenstein-style character has kept a woman alive for long after her death by hooking her up to a large matter of machines, where her head is the only thing that is still hers. Her organs take up an entire room below her bedroom, and while she does have robotic arms to help her, they will not allow her to hurt herself in any way (she can’t shoot herself or stab herself, for example…but she can hurt others). Her loyal caretaker just wants to help her die, but the doctor will not let her.

I remember being impressed by several of the essays in this collection, although I can’t remember for the life of me what they were titled (and the Wiki doesn’t help, because none of the titles seem even remotely familiar to me).

I will say that, if you are interested in Vonnegut’s non-fiction works at all, this would be the collection to pick up. My copy is almost falling apart because I bought it second-hand (and it’s not the pretty edition that would fit in with the rest of the Vonnegut books I bought, which is a slight disappointment), but I think this will certainly be one of the ones that I go back and reread when I have a little bit of time to myself in the future.

Have you read any of Vonnegut’s non-fiction? What are your thoughts on “Fortitude?” Let me know in the comments!

And as always, keep reading.

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