Kurt Vonnegut’s third novel, published in 1962. I read a 2009 Dial Press Trade Paperback from the library.
3 out of 5 stars.
Times Read: 2
Seen the Movie: There’s a movie? Weird. There’s a movie. Have not seen it, do not plan to.
American Howard W. Campbell, Jr., who spent World War II promoting fascism and hate on German radio (while being a secret agent for the United States), explains how he ended up in an Israeli prison.
Kurt Vonnegut isn’t aging well. Or maybe I’m not aging well. Authors and books I used to love are leaving me irritated. When I read Mother Night four years ago, I gave it five stars. This time, it was a struggle to justify three.
Vonnegut tells us the moral of Mother Night in the introduction: “We are what we pretend to be” (p.v). Which means this tale is about a Nazi. Our sympathies are supposed to be with Howard Campbell and I have no idea why.
There are some very good scenes, all involving events during the war (the death of a dog, the hanging of Campbell’s father-in-law, and a scene in a bomb shelter), but the events and characters in the near-present are caricatures and punchlines. Fascist, racist people are portrayed as harmless buffoons and are given more humanity than Resi Noth, who wins the award for most depressing female character I’ve encountered this year (see note ).
By the halfway point, Mother Night had me wishing I’d picked up something else from the library.