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One of the great American iconoclasts holds forth on politics, war, books and writers, and his personal life in a series of interviews, including his last--for US Airways Magazine.During his long career Kurt Vonnegut won international praise for his novels, plays, and essays. In this new anthology of conversations with Vonnegut--which collects interviews from throughout his career--we learn much about what drove Vonnegut to write and how he viewed his work at the end.From Kurt Vonnegut's Last InterviewIs there another book in you, by chance?No. Look, I'm 84 years old. Writers of fiction have usually done their best work by the time they're 45. Chess masters are through when they're 35, and so are baseball players. There are plenty of other people writing. Let them do it.So what's the old man's game, then?My country is in ruins. So I'm a fish in a poisoned fishbowl. I'm mostly just heartsick about this. There should have been hope. This should have been a great country. But we are despised all over the world now. I was hoping to build a country and add to its literature. That's why I served in World War II, and that's why I wrote books.When someone reads one of your books, what would you like them to take from the experience?Well, I'd like the guy--or the girl, of course--to put the book down and think, "This is the greatest man who ever lived."From the Trade Paperback edition.
This extraordinary collection of personal correspondence has all the hallmarks of Kurt Vonnegut's fiction. Written over a sixty-year period, these letters, the vast majority of them never before published, are funny, moving, and full of the same uncanny wisdom that has endeared his work to readers worldwide. Included in this comprehensive volume: the letter a twenty-two-year-old Vonnegut wrote home immediately upon being freed from a German POW camp, recounting the ghastly firebombing of Dresden that would be the subject of his masterpiece Slaughterhouse-Five; wry dispatches from Vonnegut's years as a struggling writer slowly finding an audience and then dealing with sudden international fame in middle age; righteously angry letters of protest to local school boards that tried to ban his work; intimate remembrances penned to high school classmates, fellow veterans, friends, and family; and letters of commiseration and encouragement to such contemporaries as Gail Godwin, Günter Grass, and Bernard Malamud. Vonnegut's unmediated observations on science, art, and commerce prove to be just as inventive as any found in his novels--from a crackpot scheme for manufacturing "atomic" bow ties to a tongue-in-cheek proposal that publishers be allowed to trade authors like baseball players. ("Knopf, for example, might give John Updike's contract to Simon and Schuster, and receive Joan Didion's contract in return.") Taken together, these letters add considerable depth to our understanding of this one-of-a-kind literary icon, in both his public and private lives. Each letter brims with the mordant humor and openhearted humanism upon which he built his legend. And virtually every page contains a quotable nugget that will make its way into the permanent Vonnegut lexicon. * On a job he had as a young man: "Hell is running an elevator throughout eternity in a building with only six floors." * To a relative who calls him a "great literary figure": "I am an American fad--of a slightly higher order than the hula hoop." * To his daughter Nanny: "Most letters from a parent contain a parent's own lost dreams disguised as good advice." * To Norman Mailer: "I am cuter than you are." Sometimes biting and ironical, sometimes achingly sweet, and always alive with the unique point of view that made him the true cultural heir to Mark Twain, these letters comprise the autobiography Kurt Vonnegut never wrote.
Kurt Vonnegut cites Theodore Sturgeon as the inspiration for his character Kilgore Trout. This volume includes 12 stories from 1953, considered Sturgeon's golden era. Among them are such favorites as the title story, "The Silken-Swift," "A Way of Thinking," "The Dark Room," "The Clinic," and "The World Well Lost," a story very ahead of its time in advocating gay rights.
Called "our finest black-humorist" byThe Atlantic Monthly, Kurt Vonnegut was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. Now his first and last works come together for the first time in print, in a collection aptly titled after his famous phrase,We Are What We Pretend To Be. Written to be sold under the pseudonym of "Mark Harvey,"Basic Trainingwas never published in Vonnegut's lifetime. It appears to have been written in the late 1940s and is therefore Vonnegut's first ever novella. It is a bitter, profoundly disenchanted story that satirizes the military, authoritarianism, gender relationships, parenthood and most of the assumed mid-century myths of the family. Haley Brandon, the adolescent protagonist, comes to the farm of his relative, the old crazy who insists upon being called The General, to learn to be astraight-shooting American. Haley's only means of survival will lead him to unflagging defiance of the General's deranged (but oh so American, oh so military) values. This story and its thirtyish author were no friends of the milieu to which the slick magazines' advertisers were pitching their products. When Vonnegut passed away in 2007, he left his last novel unfinished. EntitledIf God Were Alive Today, this last work is a brutal satire on societal ignorance and carefree denial of the world's major problems. Protagonist Gil Berman is a middle-aged college lecturer and self-declared stand-up comedian who enjoys cracking jokes in front of a college audience while societal dependence on fossil fuels has led to the apocalypse. Described by Vonnegut as, "the stand-up comedian on Doomsday," Gil is a character formed from Vonnegut's own rich experiences living in areality Vonnegut himself considered inevitable. Along with the two works of fiction, Vonnegut's daughter, Nanette shares reminiscences about her father and commentary on these two works--both exclusive to this edition. In this fiction collection, published in print for the first time, exist Vonnegut's grand themes: trust no one, trust nothing; and the only constants are absurdity and resignation, which themselves cannot protect us from the void but might divert.
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