If you believe the blurb, Timequake is a novel that tells the story of an unexplained “timequake” that shifts the world’s population back a decade and forces them to relive every moment of their lives – without opportunity for change, forcing them to make the same decisions, do the same things as they did the first time around. It’s an intriguing concept, with ample potential to ruminate on topics like free will.
Vonnegut takes the opportunity to do that, but he’s not particularly interested in telling a story. Timequake is like an extended conversation with an erudite, articulate older relative; Vonnegut shares his beliefs, fragments of his life story and assorted short stories (generally Kilgore Trout’s sci-fi tales) and mostly takes the opportunity to philosophise on life in general. As you’d expect from Vonnegut, the book resonates with astounding intelligence and cheeky wit, and is endlessly quotable.
I may not agree with him on every topic – we differ on semi-colons and the destructive potential of technology – but unlike an actual conversation, I’m spared the opportunity to embarrass myself by interrupting. The initial conceit of Timequake, as interesting as it is, may get left by the wayside, but I had no complaints.