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About Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut was a writer, lecturer and painter. He was born in Indianapolis in 1922 and studied biochemistry at Cornell University. During WWII, as a prisoner of war in Germany, he witnessed the destruction of Dresden by Allied bombers, an experience which inspired Slaughterhouse Five. First published in 1950, he went on to write fourteen novels, four plays, and three short story collections, in addition to countless works of short fiction and nonfiction. He died in 2007.
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Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time
Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous World War II firebombing of Dresden, the novel is the result of what Kurt Vonnegut described as a twenty-three-year struggle to write a book about what he had witnessed as an American prisoner of war. It combines historical fiction, science fiction, autobiography, and satire in an account of the life of Billy Pilgrim, a barber’s son turned draftee turned optometrist turned alien abductee. As Vonnegut had, Billy experiences the destruction of Dresden as a POW. Unlike Vonnegut, he experiences time travel, or coming “unstuck in time.”
An instant bestseller, Slaughterhouse-Five made Kurt Vonnegut a cult hero in American literature, a reputation that only strengthened over time, despite his being banned and censored by some libraries and schools for content and language. But it was precisely those elements of Vonnegut’s writing—the political edginess, the genre-bending inventiveness, the frank violence, the transgressive wit—that have inspired generations of readers not just to look differently at the world around them but to find the confidence to say something about it. Authors as wide-ranging as Norman Mailer, John Irving, Michael Crichton, Tim O’Brien, Margaret Atwood, Elizabeth Strout, David Sedaris, Jennifer Egan, and J. K. Rowling have all found inspiration in Vonnegut’s words. Jonathan Safran Foer has described Vonnegut as “the kind of writer who made people—young people especially—want to write.” George Saunders has declared Vonnegut to be “the great, urgent, passionate American writer of our century, who offers us . . . a model of the kind of compassionate thinking that might yet save us from ourselves.”
Fifty years after its initial publication at the height of the Vietnam War, Vonnegut's portrayal of political disillusionment, PTSD, and postwar anxiety feels as relevant, darkly humorous, and profoundly affecting as ever, an enduring beacon through our own era’s uncertainties.
“Poignant and hilarious, threaded with compassion and, behind everything, the cataract of a thundering moral statement.”—The Boston Globe
Slapstick presents an apocalyptic vision as seen through the eyes of the current King of Manhattan (and last President of the United States), a wickedly irreverent look at the all-too-possible results of today’s follies. But even the end of life-as-we-know-it is transformed by Kurt Vonnegut’s pen into hilarious farce—a final slapstick that may be the Almighty’s joke on us all.
“Both funny and sad . . . just about perfect.”—Los Angeles Times
“Imaginative and hilarious . . . a brilliant vision of our wrecked, wacked-out future.”—Hartford Courant
Cat’s Cradle is Kurt Vonnegut’s satirical commentary on modern man and his madness. An apocalyptic tale of this planet’s ultimate fate, it features a midget as the protagonist, a complete, original theology created by a calypso singer, and a vision of the future that is at once blackly fatalistic and hilariously funny. A book that left an indelible mark on an entire generation of readers, Cat’s Cradle is one of the twentieth century’s most important works—and Vonnegut at his very best.
“[Vonnegut is] an unimitative and inimitable social satirist.”—Harper’s Magazine
“Our finest black-humorist . . . We laugh in self-defense.”—Atlantic Monthly
“[Vonnegut] at his wildest best.”—The New York Times Book Review
Eliot Rosewater—drunk, volunteer fireman, and President of the fabulously rich Rosewater Foundation—is about to attempt a noble experiment with human nature . . . with a little help from writer Kilgore Trout. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater is Kurt Vonnegut’s funniest satire, an etched-in-acid portrayal of the greed, hypocrisy, and follies of the flesh we are all heir to.
“A brilliantly funny satire on almost everything.”—Conrad Aiken
“[Vonnegut was] our finest black humorist. . . . We laugh in self-defense.”—The Atlantic Monthly
Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read
The Sirens of Titan is an outrageous romp through space, time, and morality. The richest, most depraved man on Earth, Malachi Constant, is offered a chance to take a space journey to distant worlds with a beautiful woman at his side. Of course there’ s a catch to the invitation–and a prophetic vision about the purpose of human life that only Vonnegut has the courage to tell.
“Reading Vonnegut is addictive!”—Commonweal
Mother Night is a daring challenge to our moral sense. American Howard W. Campbell, Jr., a spy during World War II, is now on trial in Israel as a Nazi war criminal. But is he really guilty? In this brilliant book rife with true gallows humor, Vonnegut turns black and white into a chilling shade of gray with a verdict that will haunt us all.
“A great artist.”—Cincinnati Enquirer
“A shaking up in the kaleidoscope of laughter . . . Reading Vonnegut is addictive!”—Commonweal
In Breakfast of Champions, one of Kurt Vonnegut’s most beloved characters, the aging writer Kilgore Trout, finds to his horror that a Midwest car dealer is taking his fiction as truth. What follows is murderously funny satire, as Vonnegut looks at war, sex, racism, success, politics, and pollution in America and reminds us how to see the truth.
“Free-wheeling, wild and great . . . uniquely Vonnegut.”—Publishers Weekly
Galápagos takes the reader back one million years, to A.D. 1986. A simple vacation cruise suddenly becomes an evolutionary journey. Thanks to an apocalypse, a small group of survivors stranded on the Galápagos Islands are about to become the progenitors of a brave, new, and totally different human race. In this inimitable novel, America’ s master satirist looks at our world and shows us all that is sadly, madly awry–and all that is worth saving.
Praise for Galápagos
“The best Vonnegut novel yet!”—John Irving
“Beautiful . . . provocative, arresting reading.”—USA Today
“A satire in the classic tradition . . . a dark vision, a heartfelt warning.”—The Detroit Free Press
“Interesting, engaging, sad and yet very funny . . . Vonnegut is still in top form. If he has no prescription for alleviating the pain of the human condition, at least he is a first-rate diagnostician.”—Susan Isaacs, Newsday
“Dark . . . original and funny.”—People
“A triumph of style, originality and warped yet consistent logic . . . a condensation, an evolution of Vonnegut’s entire career, including all the issues and questions he has pursued relentlessly for four decades.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Wild details, wry humor, outrageous characters . . . Galápagos is a comic lament, a sadly ironic vison.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“A work of high comedy, sadness and imagination.”—The Denver Post
“Wacky wit and irreverent imagination . . . and the full range of technical innovations have made [Vonnegut] America’s preeminent experimental novelist.”—The Minneapolis Star and Tribune
“A funny, savage appraisal of a totally automated American society of the future.”—San Francisco Chronicle
Kurt Vonnegut’s first novel spins the chilling tale of engineer Paul Proteus, who must find a way to live in a world dominated by a supercomputer and run completely by machines. Paul’s rebellion is vintage Vonnegut—wildly funny, deadly serious, and terrifyingly close to reality.
Praise for Player Piano
“An exuberant, crackling style . . . Vonnegut is a black humorist, fantasist and satirist, a man disposed to deep and comic reflection on the human dilemma.”—Life
“His black logic . . . gives us something to laugh about and much to fear.”—The New York Times Book Review
Welcome to the Monkey House is a collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s shorter works. Originally printed in publications as diverse as The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and The Atlantic Monthly, these superb stories share Vonnegut’s audacious sense of humor and extraordinary range of creative vision.
Includes the following stories:
“Where I Live”
“Who Am I This Time?”
“Welcome to the Monkey House”
“Long Walk to Forever”
“The Foster Portfolio”
“All the King’s Horses”
“Tom Edison’s Shaggy Dog”
“More Stately Mansions”
“The Hyannis Port Story”
“Report on the Barnhouse Effect”
“The Euphio Question”
“Go Back to Your Precious Wife and Son”
“Deer in the Works”
“Unready to Wear”
“The Kid Nobody Could Handle”
“The Manned Missiles”
“Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow”
Here is an entirely new side of Kurt Vonnegut, Vonnegut as a teacher of writing. Of course he’s given us glimpses before, with aphorisms and short essays and articles and in his speeches. But never before has an entire book been devoted to Kurt Vonnegut the teacher. Here is pretty much everything Vonnegut ever said or wrote having to do with the writing art and craft, altogether a healing, a nourishing expedition. His former student, Suzanne McConnell, has outfitted us for the journey, and in these 37 chapters covers the waterfront of how one American writer brought himself to the pinnacle of the writing art, and we can all benefit as a result.
Kurt Vonnegut was one of the few grandmasters of American literature, whose novels continue to influence new generations about the ways in which our imaginations can help us to live. Few aspects of his contribution have not been plumbed—fourteen novels, collections of his speeches, his essays, his letters, his plays—so this fresh view of him is a bonanza for writers and readers and Vonnegut fans everywhere.
“Part homage, part memoir, and a 100% guide to making art with words, Pity the Reader: On Writing with Style is a simply mesmerizing book, and I cannot recommend it highly enough!”—Andre Dubus III, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“The blend of memory, fact, keen observation, spellbinding descriptiveness and zany characters that populated Vonnegut’s work is on full display here.”—James McBride, National Book Award-winning author
In a volume that is penetrating, introspective, incisive, and laugh-out-loud funny, one of the great men of letters of this age–or any age–holds forth on life, art, sex, politics, and the state of America’s soul. From his coming of age in America, to his formative war experiences, to his life as an artist, this is Vonnegut doing what he does best: Being himself. Whimsically illustrated by the author, A Man Without a Country is intimate, tender, and brimming with the scope of Kurt Vonnegut’s passions.
Praise for A Man Without a Country
“[This] may be as close as Vonnegut ever comes to a memoir.”–Los Angeles Times
“Like [that of] his literary ancestor Mark Twain, [Kurt Vonnegut’s] crankiness is good-humored and sharp-witted. . . . [Reading A Man Without a Country is] like sitting down on the couch for a long chat with an old friend.”–The New York Times Book Review
“Filled with [Vonnegut’s] usual contradictory mix of joy and sorrow, hope and despair, humor and gravity.”–Chicago Tribune
“Fans will linger on every word . . . as once again [Vonnegut] captures the complexity of the human condition with stunning calligraphic simplicity.”–The Australian
“Thank God, Kurt Vonnegut has broken his promise that he will never write another book. In this wondrous assemblage of mini-memoirs, we discover his family’s legacy and his obstinate, unfashionable humanism.”–Studs Terkel