Top critical review
As silly as its name entails
on June 29, 2003
As far as I can tell, this was Vonnegut's attempt at an distopian novel of the vein of Brave New World or 1984, yet more satirical. But Vonnegut struck out with this book.
The first person narrative style of Slapstick is somewhat similar to that of Cat's Cradle (which I have yet to finish). The story is told from the viewpoint of the King of New York, who is the ugliest man in the world and is the former President of the United States. During his presidency, he invents artificial familes based on randomized middle names, and scientific advancements by the Chinese and the Albanian flu lead to the destruction of the country.
As the descriptions of the novel show, Slapstick is utterly ridiculous, which was of course Vonnegut's aim. Unfortunately, the book does not seem to have much more of a deeper meaning. Instead, it seems as though it was just an excuse for Vonnegut to write another crazy book. It seems too silly to be intriguing on a more literary scope. Another problem is that the reappearing "Hi ho" in Slapstick becomes annoying quickly.
One good thing about this book is that it is a very quick read. If you see it at a yardsale, you might want to pick it up for a quick giggle. But that's about all you will get from this book. I wouldn't invest any more money in it than a dollar or two. If you are interested in Vonnegut, start with Slaughterhouse-Five if you haven't already read it. It is still the best book of his that I have read.