Vonnegut’s “The Big Space Fuck” and “It Looks Like This” response

“The Big Space Fuck” by Kurt Vonnegut is the best story I have read to date.  It’s extremely difficult for me to put a finger on just why it’s so influential to me, but here goes.  This particular story allows me to escape the doldrums of my very boring existence while remaining very plausible and real.  It feeds right into my world-loathing and dystopian outlook on the future.  However, Vonnegut accomplishes this through use of a sort of lighthearted and extremely dry sense of humor. 

            In this dystopian future, kids can sue their parents for the improper upbringing, people are encouraged to have abortions, only the exceptionally intelligent citizens of the world can contribute genetic materials to the Big Space Fuck (a rocket loaded with frozen eggs and semen with hopes to colonize a new planet), the earth is dying from pollution, and human beings are quickly falling down the food-chain.  Vonnegut’s story is blatantly fictitious, but the story seems grounded in very plausible circumstances.  This fabricated reality could very well occur in the very near future.

            I guess the possibility of a dire existence just intrigues me.  This is not some far-fetched and completely irrational state of existence, but, at the same time, it is.  This duality really makes this story stick with me.  I really want to explore that in my writing.  This duality really fascinates me because it’s very much like my personality, I think.  I want to be humble but seem to get a big head from time to time.  I call my writing cathartic, I call it ambitious, I call it garbage, but, whatever, I suppose that’s what I want it to be in the end.  That last sentence sucked, sorry.

            “It Looks Like This” reminded me of the toil and trauma that a lot of kids growing up in the rural Midwest have to deal with.  I know personally, I had to move back home to take care of my dad two years ago.  I was being selfish in my move, whereas Caitlin seemed to be completely complacent and unselfish by staying home.  I moved home so I would have no regrets and to quell the strong sense of guilt that accompanied me being 175 miles away.  I also moved back because I thought that if I moved home, it would mean that I was a good person. 

            Anyways, enough about me, the story was incredible.  Horrocks gives us descriptions of people, places and, particularly, quilts.  She placed us into the heart of the Midwest, giving us a sense of what it is like to have such a hard but satisfying life.  She doesn’t have an advanced degree, not even a high school diploma, yet she seems satisfied with her life thus far.  She compares her quilts to Elsa’s, and although her quilts fall short, she isn’t perturbed or overly concerned with coming in second.  The way Caitlin explains her situation gives us a simple and complex sense of her existence.  Although she is not Amish, the similarities between the Elsa and Caitlin are there.  Horrocks never directly tells us this, but we can gather this hypothesis by recognizing how Elsa’s character basically dominates the Caitlin’s narrative about herself.

One thought on “Vonnegut’s “The Big Space Fuck” and “It Looks Like This” response

  1. Another good set of observations, Darrin. One of the things I love most about Horrocks is that it seems like no matter what she writes, you can relate to what she says. I took care of my grandmother the summer she died. I was 17, and like you, I was more thinking about being a good person than anything else. I loved her and did not resent having to do it, but certainly there was self-interest involved. It’s interesting to contrast that sort of experience with the situation Elsa is in where she doesn’t really have any choices. If you like dystopian fiction, you should check out the Hunger Games trilogy, Zone One by Colson Whitehead, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, When She Woke by Hilary Jordan, Neuromancer by WIlliam Gibson, The Running Man by Richard Bachman (Stephen King), and The Children of Men by PD James. That should get you started.

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