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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

Lucky Mud and Other Foma

A Field Guide to Kurt Vonnegut's Environmentalism and Planetary Citizenship

by Christina Jarvis

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9781644212257

A fascinating deep dive into Kurt Vonnegut’s oeuvre and legacy, illuminating his unique perspective on environmental stewardship and our shared connections as humans, Earthlings, and stardust.

Vonnegut’s major apocalyptic trio—Cat’s Cradle, Slapstick, and Galápagos—prompt broad global, national, and species-level thinking about environmental issues through dramatic and fantastic scenarios. This book, Lucky Mud and Other Foma, tells the story of the origins and legacy of what Kurt Vonnegut understood as “planetary citizenship” and explores key roots, influences, literary techniques, and artistic expressions of his interest in environmental activism through his writing.

Vonnegut saw writing itself as an act of good citizenship, as a way of “poisoning” the minds of young people “with humanity . . . to encourage them to make a better world.” Often that literary activism meant addressing real social and environmental problems—polluted water, soil, and air; racial and economic injustice; isolating and dehumanizing technologies; and lives and landscapes desolated by war. Vonnegut’s remedies took many forms, from the redemptive power of the arts to artificial extended families to vital communities and engaged democracies. Reminding us of our shared connections as humans, as Earthlings, as stardust, Lucky Mud helps fans, scholars, and book lovers of all kinds experience how Vonnegut’s writings purposely challenge readers to think, create, and love.

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“In the world of environmental literature, one might think of Rachel Carlson, E.O. Wilson, Walt Whitman. Kurt Vonnegut? Not likely. But to leave him out would be a mistake. Extensively researched and exquisitely written, Dr. Jarvis's book takes the reader through the life, times, and musings of one of the most iconic American writers. Satirical and darkly humorous, Vonnegut is usually classified as a science fiction writer, but Dr. Jarvis accurately places his art within the environmental and social justice lens he intended. If you aren’t a Vonnegut fan, you will be. If you are, this book will give you a deeper love and appreciation for who Vonnegut was and the meanings behind his stories.”

CHRISTINA JARVIS is Professor of English at State University of New York at Fredonia, where she teaches courses in sustainability and twentieth-century American literature and culture, including several major author seminars on Kurt Vonnegut. She is the author of The Male Body at War: American Masculinity during World War II, and has published in journals such as Women’s StudiesThe Southern QuarterlyThe Journal of Men’s Studies, and War, Literature, and the Arts. She lives near the shores of Lake Erie in Western New York.