Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut is one of the very few "important" mid-to-late 20th century writers whose books are not, actually, complete downers. That's not to say that his books don't have their emotionally searing moments--Slaughterhouse Five is about the firebombing of Dresden, an event that Vonnegut witnessed firsthand as captured soldier--but Vonnegut's sense of absurdity saves them from unalleviated bleakness.

Slaughterhouse Five is deservedly Vonnegut's most famous work, but I have a particular love for the short story collection Welcome to the Monkey House. (Fair warning: most of the real book critics seem to have responded to this collection with a resounding "Meh", so maybe I just have crappy taste.) Welcome to the Monkey House includes the short story "Harrison Bergeron", which I always think reads like a particularly well-written episode of The Twilight Zone.

Note #1: The complete title of Slaughterhouse Five is Slaughterhouse Five; or, The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., a Fourth-Generation German-American Now Living in Easy Circumstances on Cape Cod (and Smoking Too Much) Who, as an American Infantry Scout Hors de Combat, as a Prisoner of War, Witnessed the Fire-Bombing of Dresden, Germany, the Florence of the Elbe, a Long Time Ago, and Survived to Tell the Tale: This Is a Novel Somewhat in the Telegraphic Schizophrenic Manner of Tales of the Planet Tralfamadore, Where The Flying Saucers Come From.

Note #2: Although Vonnegut announced that he was giving up writing after 1997's Timequake, you can check out his artistic endeavors in the felt-tip-pen field here.



Other Recommendations:
Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

http://www.vonnegut.com/ -
Posted by: Julia


17 Oct, 2006 10:11 PM @ version 0

Harrison Bergeron was by Kurt Vonnegut? How did I never realize that? It's one of those things you read in your junior high English class and don't realize at the time that it will stay with you for the rest of your life. 15 years later I still think about it on a pretty regular basis and it's as relevant today as it ever was. I'd also recommend Slaughterhouse Five. As a refugee during the war my father missed burning to death in Dresden by a matter of days and while I'll admit the book is weird and that I didn't really get a lot of it there are parts that struck me and still make me think to this day. Also in Footloose Kevin Bacon recommends it. Need I say more?

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