Posts tagged “and so it goes”
November 12, 2012
November 11th, 2012 would have been Kurt Vonnegut’s 90th birthday.
This past year saw the release of a number of Vonnegut biographies, criticisms, and posthumously released material, including Greg Sumner’s Unstuck in Time: A Journey Through Kurt Vonnegut’s Life and Novels (now available in paperback) which looks at Vonnegut’s life through the lens of his most famous works, as well as Charles Shield’s controversial biography, And So it Goes and Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, with 60 years of correspondence edited by Dan Wakefield, a long-time friend of Vonnegut’s.
The latest is We Are What We Pretend to Be: The First and Last Works, with two works of unreleased fiction: Basic Training, Vonnegut’s earliest unpublished novella, and If God Were Alive Today, the unfinished novel Vonnegut began before he died. It also features an introduction by Vonnegut’s daughter, Nanette Vonnegut. Check out this interview with Nanette at The Rumpus:
“She clearly loves her father and it was fun sharing my admiration for him with her.
August 8, 2012
Want to know the difference between Charles Shields’ Vonnegut bio And So it Goes and Greg Sumner’s hybrid bio/lit crit Unstuck in Time: A Journey Through Kurt Vonnegut’s Life and Novels (out in paperback this November)? Then check out this comparative essay in New Politics.
“In contrast to Shields, Sumner sees only the overwhelming decency of Vonnegut, who, he writes, believed that heroism is making peace with our tragic limitation, acting with decency and caring for those around us.” (40) He does recognize Vonnegut’s anxieties as being lonely and isolated. Vonnegut frequently refers to the “great American experiment with rootlessness “and the observation that he “did not think himself very good in life” and suffered from a “perpetual lack of confidence in his creative powers.” There were also suicide attempts and nervous breakdowns.
Both of these books present a complicated man, with great strengths and several flaws. For those interested in the life and times of Vonnegut, I recommend them both.”
November 29, 2011The initial general evaluation offered by Sumner about Vonnegut’s novels: “an impassioned and sometimes brokenhearted meditation on the American Dream.” Each novel took into account, implicitly or explicitly, the political movements within the America that Vonnegut, a World War II veteran, loved dearly and patriotically. In fact, the epigraph from Vonnegut chosen by Sumner to open the book states: “The function of an artist is to respond to his own time.”
November 21, 2011"It is hard to build a career by saying or writing nice things about people. And yet, not only was Kurt beloved, he can be credited for freeing American literature from some of the stiffness and formality that had always marked it previously. He made the province of American literature much less provincial."