Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

9781644211908-f_feature
9781644211908

The first and only YA biography of the great American novelist and humanist comes out on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Kurt Vonnegut, author of Slaughterhouse Five, Breakfast of Champions, Cat's Cradle, and many other brilliant novels and short stories, is one of our greatest American writers, often using science fiction, humor, and a humanist view of society, religion, politics, and human nature in his writing to show us the absurdity and the loveliness of life on earth. Born in 1922, Vonnegut's life was full of great fortune and great despair: his family was wealthy, but lost everyting in the market crash of 1929; he was the youngest son in a loving family, until his mother fell into a depression and committed suicide; he joined the army in WWII with great pride for our country, but experienced instead a world of destruction and horror. These and many others were the experiences that made him a writer. But how did he channel the highs and lows of his life into great writing?

Dan Wakefield, a friend and mentee of Vonnegut's for decades and a fellow Hoosier, distills the facts including Kurt's novels, essays, interviews, letters and personal experiences, into a beautiful telling of the making of a writer. Using the second person "You," it is as though Wakefield is a friend walking through Kurt's life alongside him, a guide for readers to his extraordinary life. Here is an American life, a burgeoning artist's life to inspire anyone who has read Vonnegut's work or who themselves aspire to write.

9781644211908-f_feature
9781644211908

Buying options

“Dan Wakefield has delivered Kurt Vonnegut to a new generation of readers. During the Vietnam war years Vonnegut was regarded as a truth-teller by young students who gulped down his novels. As Wakefield puts it, 'He said things that other people thought but didn’t’ say or hadn’t dared to think but recognized as true when they heard them.' This book is especially important to anyone who aspires to be a writer. Vonnegut was more than merely gifted: he was dogged. In 1992, when he was 70, Vonnegut said, 'It has always been the case with me that when my life is a mess I can find some relief by writing.' Vonnegut’s good friend Dan Wakefield knew him as did few others; and he has done us all a favor with this detailed biography of this fearless writer.”

“In this rich, engaging biography, Dan Wakefield introduces readers to the key mentors, artistic influences, family members, and experiences that shaped Kurt Vonnegut’s distinctive voice and extraordinary career as a writer. Vonnegut fans young and old alike will be enchanted by Wakefield’s intimate and always insightful portrait of the beloved Hoosier icon.”

“I love the tone the second person gives the story. There's something intimate and warm about it, the way a loving parent might speak to a child. It says I see you and I understand you. The thing that students love about Vonnegut is the humor but also the moral compass, the humanity and this book shows where it comes from.”

A penetrating view of the life, work, and character of a renowned writer, artist, playwright, and countercultural icon. Wakefield, editor of Vonnegut’s collected letters and short stories as well as a personal friend of the late author, incorporates dozens of the former as well as extracts from speeches and personal memories into a present-tense, second-person encomium that slides smoothly over some rougher spots—notably fractured relationships with certain publishers and agents as well as both of his wives. But readers who are still, after so many years, encountering Vonnegut’s edgy, profane, often hilarious writing in high school or later will find links aplenty between his early experiences and later works and themes alongside ample documentation of his devastating and even now timely attacks on warmongers and, as the author of several perennially challenged books, self-appointed censors. The epistolary passages make up for a relative paucity of direct quotes from the books in providing a sense of his voice, and the notes for an undelivered talk that close the main narrative (the editor adds on substantial reminiscences and acknowledgments) do capture his characteristic sensibility and wit: “And how should we behave during this Apocalypse? We should be unusually kind to one another, certainly. But we should also stop being so serious. Jokes help a lot. And get a dog, if you don’t already have one….I’m out of here.” Sympathetic, authoritative, and readable.

It’s not only young adults who will get a kick out of the book. You will, too — especially if you’re interested in novels and novelists, especially if you come from Indianapolis or lived through the 1960s or miss the way people used to write letters to each other. You get the idea that Mr. Wakefield’s account of Vonnegut’s life is funny and tender, the kind of book that will leave you bruised and happy and reverberating a little, as if you are a piano that someone has just finished playing.

blog — December 23

New from Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Three new titles from our Triangle Square Books imprint offer radical works of the imagination for young adult readers, ages 10 and up.

A necessary guide to critical media literacy for tweens and teens; a new, extensively updated edition of Howard Zinn’s A Young People’s History of the United States; and the first and only YA biography of Kurt Vonnegut.

From foundations in critical thinking skills to practical tools and real-life perspectives, this book empowers young adult readers to be independent media users.

During the recent presidential election, “media literacy” became a buzzword that signified the threat media manipulation posed to democratic processes. Meanwhile, statistical research has shown that 8 to 18 year-olds pack more than eleven hours with some form of media into each day by “media multitasking.” Young people are not only eager and interested to learn about and discuss the realities of media ownership, production, and distribution, they also deserve to understand differential power structures in how media influences our culture.

The Media and Me provides readers with the tools and perspectives to be empowered and autonomous media users. The book explores critical inquiry skills to help young people form a multidimensional comprehension of what they read and watch, opportunities to see others like them making change, and insight into their own identity projects. By covering topics like storytelling, building arguments and recognizing fallacies, surveillance and digital gatekeeping, advertising and consumerism, and global social problems through a critical media literacy lens, this book will help students evolve from passive consumers of media to engaged critics and creators.

The seminal American history book for middle grade and high school readers, newly revised and updated for the centennial of Howard Zinn's birth.

With new contributions by Latinx scholar Ed Morales and adapter Rebecca Stefoff, based on newly available scholarship, here is a new and revised edition of Howard Zinn's seminal text, A Young People's History of the United States. A new chapter, introduction, conclusion and further updates throughout the book expand our understanding of Latinx history in the US through the political movements and cultural contributions of Latino Americans, as well as expanded coverage of Native history and Asian American activism. 
 
This now-classic work of radical and activist US history gives readers the viewpoints of workers, enslaved people, immigrants, women, Black people, Latino Americans, Asian Americans, American Indians, and others whose stories, and their impact, are rarely included in books for young people. Beginning with a look at Christopher Columbus's arrival through the eyes of the Arawak Indians, then leading the reader through the struggles for worker's rights, women's rights, and civil rights during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and ending with the recent protests against continued American imperialism, Howard Zinn presents a radical new way of understanding America's history. In so doing, he reminds readers that America’s true greatness is shaped by our dissident voices, not our military generals.

The first and only YA biography of the great American novelist and humanist comes out on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Kurt Vonnegut, author of Slaughterhouse Five, Breakfast of Champions, Cat's Cradle, and many other brilliant novels and short stories, is one of our greatest American writers, often using science fiction, humor, and a humanist view of society, religion, politics, and human nature in his writing to show us the absurdity and the loveliness of life on earth. Born in 1922, Vonnegut's life was full of great fortune and great despair: his family was wealthy, but lost everyting in the market crash of 1929; he was the youngest son in a loving family, until his mother fell into a depression and committed suicide; he joined the army in WWII with great pride for our country, but experienced instead a world of destruction and horror. These and many others were the experiences that made him a writer. But how did he channel the highs and lows of his life into great writing?

Dan Wakefield, a friend and mentee of Vonnegut's for decades and a fellow Hoosier, distills the facts including Kurt's novels, essays, interviews, letters and personal experiences, into a beautiful telling of the making of a writer. Using the second person "You," it is as though Wakefield is a friend walking through Kurt's life alongside him, a guide for readers to his extraordinary life. Here is an American life, a burgeoning artist's life to inspire anyone who has read Vonnegut's work or who themselves aspire to write.

Dan_wakefield_by_ellen_crabb-f_feature

A longtime friend of Kurt Vonnegut’s, Dan Wakefield edited and introduced Kurt Vonnegut: Letters. Wakefield is the author of the memoirs New York in the Fifties and Returning: A Spiritual Journey. His novel, Going All the Way was made into a movie starring Ben Affleck. Wakefield also created the NBC prime time series James at Fifteen. He lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.