The 100 Books Project: Mother Night


“Mother Night” by Kurt Vonnegut

My exposure to Vonnegut is severely lacking. I have only read three of this many works, and “Mother Night” was one of them. In fact, “Mother Night” was supposed to be the big one, as the thing that finally got me to pick up Vonnegut as I had been wanting to do for ages was the fact that he was the favourite author of a guy I liked, and “Mother Night” was his favourite of all of them. And I decided to read it again. I like “Mother Night,” but I feel that my appreciation for it dwindles toward the middle of the book, only to be resurrected with the ending, which I love. I wish I knew precisely why I loved the ending, but I just can’t pinpoint it. I think it’s just because Campbell will finally (lol spoiler alert) cease the odd ghost existence he’s been living and finally put an end to it. It asks the question of whether or not it is better to have any life, any life at all, or if it is better to not have a life like that. And the final words, still, are not that final. Auf wiedersehen. Until we meet again…

It’s a quick read. It’s an unsurprising read, and not simply because I’ve read it before, but, out of the three Vonnegut books I’ve read, “Mother Night” stands as the least impressive. I like it, as I’ve said before, but nothing much about it really resonates with me, with the exception of perhaps Helga Noth. Not, it is important to note, Resi Noth. I dislike Resi for her complete inability to be satisfied with who she was and her complete lack of scruples in tainting what Helga was to Howard. I sound like such a romantic idealist in saying that, don’t I? But my favourite part of the book is undoubtedly Howard’s concept of the Nation of Two, and not just because it reminds me of a Cake song. Really!

One thing “Mother Night” does leave with me is the possibility of a film, and then I discovered that there actually was a movie starring Nick Nolte (whut.) and Sheryl Lee in 1996. This is disappointing, if only because my Helga/Resi Noth will always be Diane Kruger.


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Then again, I might be a little biased there. Either way, good book, glad a fruitless crush on a Vonnegut fiend lead me to read it, and we’ll see if I want to give the film version a go. It still has one of my favourite endings, though I have no idea why.

Auf wiedersehen.

Books Read: 4 out of 100

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