Turn The Page: Timequake By Kurt Vonnegut
Vonnegut uses the perfect framing device for this novel wherein a timequake bumps everyone back in time ten years to run through that whole decade of their lives again. He starts off by leading us in by the nose with the notion that he wrote a really bad book called Timequake (named Timequake 1 in the book) and that this is the rewrite — already building into the structure of the book the notion of a retread. And, having just read some Burroughs, it strikes me that there is a similarity between the writers in that they both fold their own lives into the mix. Vonnegut the writer and Vonnegut the character can seem interchangeable and both are definitely malleable constructs that the writer feels free to use to the effect that the real world and the world of his novel blend almost seamlessly into each other. You see things through the eyes of both Vonnegut the writer, Vonnegut the character, and his fictional spokesperson Kilgore Trout. It is as if Vonnegut were building a hall of mirrors around a central idea and that what we see throughout the book is different funhouse versions of this notion. It has something in common with the film Adaptation too with its factualising of the fictional and its fictualising of the factual. I said elsewhere that the popularity of Vonnegut derives from the humanity that shines forth from his texts. How does he imbue those texts with that humanity? Well, he climbs right on into that text and he moves around inside it, affects the world within and because one can’t help being or becoming what one writes of themselves, he is affected in turn. Vonnegut and Timequake are part of a huge metafiction that lives and breathes both within and without of the confines of the book. It is quite an achievement, but how better to affect the world as a writer than to effect a bleed between the two? The ink of the words that spin through your head from Timequake paint the world into something new and different — the text becomes anything but static words on a page: it causes its own timequake.