beware, there be spoilers: Deadeye Dick

It’s an interesting experience, to read all of the books of a single author in a somewhat limited period of time (and yes, yes, I know I’m behind in my reading; I’m doing what I can to catch up).  With Vonnegut it’s doubly interesting, because of how he works characters from one book into another, or several others as he is wont to do.

Deadeye Dick is a very pleasant read, set in a place we’ve visited before.  Not my favorite, I’ll have to admit, but then it has none of the science fiction weirdness that I’ve come to enjoy.  There’s no Kilgore Trout, for instance, and no random extraterrestrial visitation.

But he does something here that resonates a bit, given the current politics of some countries in the West.  The city of Midland City, Ohio is destroyed by a neutron bomb, and while the explosion is described as an accident involving a truck-borne bomb, presumably being moved from one place to another, the whole story of the bomb is not explored in any detail at all.

I do like the unnamed mathematician who claims to have constructed a proof that the bomb detonated some sixty feet in the air, thereby proving that it couldn’t have been a truck-borne bomb, thus invoking conspiracy theories.  The unsolved assassination of President Kennedy is also mentioned (in those terms), and this attempt to foster the belief in conspiracy is one of the things I find a bit frustrating.

This whole conspiracy theory aspect is only briefly explored towards the end of the book.  Vonnegut does bring it in earlier, in the sense that the destruction of Midland City is mentioned but no one, particularly not our narrator, seems to be particularly concerned by the fact of destruction by the bomb.  Admittedly, the narrator doesn’t have a strong connected to the city, but I think I would have liked the conspiracy theory to have been more evenly infused throughout the book.

It reminds me of a small incident during Gordon Ramsey week of the current, now nearly completed tenth series of Masterchef Australia, my favorite of the Masterchefs.  He says to one of the contestants, season (that is, salt) your food through the whole of the cook, a little at a time, rather than trying to fix the seasoning at the end.

And this is then a lesson for me to bring into my own writing.  Scatter the weirdness a bit more evenly throughout, rather than concentrating it at the end, where the reader might not be willing to accept the big dollop of weirdness all at the end.

~ by Jim Anderson on 10 November 2018.

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