Bio: Hailed by Graham Greene as one of the best living American writers, Kurt Vonnegut is one of the definitive voices in American literature in the second half of the 20th century. Born in Indianapolis in 1922 and a veteran of World War II (Billy Pilgrim of Slaughterhouse Five is his exact contemporary), he worked for General Electric before publishing his first story in 1950 and turning to writing full time. From the beginning, science fiction was an important element in Vonnegut's writing--his early stories were published in science-fiction magazines--though his work is in no way merely generic. A scathing and dark wit, a sly intelligence and a richly evolved sense of the absurd make Vonnegut's writing like no one else's. Doris Lessing called him one of the writers who map our landscapes for us, who gives names to the places we know best.
Vonnegut's first novel Player Piano was published in 1952, and his novels, stories and essays began to appear regularly in the years that followed. It was the publication of The Sirens of Titan (1959) and, ultimately, Cat's Cradle (1963) that established Vonnegut as a major new writer with the general public, both in the U.S. and internationally. The appearance of Slaughterhouse Five six years later brought him an increasingly rare double distinction for a serious writer--critical acclaim and bestselling success. Vonnegut's other notably titles include God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater; Welcome to the Monkey House; Breakfast of Champions; Slapstick; Jailbird; Deadeye Dick; and Hocus Pocus. Time magazine has described Kurt Vonnegut as George Orwell, Dr. Caligari and Flash Gordon compounded into one writer ... a zany but moral mad scientist.
Kurt Vonnegut's "explosive meditation" of a novel Breakfast of Champions (1973) is subtitled "Goodbye Blue Monday!" It is peppered with simple, childlike illustrations drawn by the author, and it tells a crazy-quilt story that eventually defies the constraints of the novel format itself. All of this seems to constitute an act of self-liberation, and it is: Vonnegut overhauling his creative world, breathing deeply and toying with the very nature of the novel. The title echoes the claims of a well... more info>>
In this wild, hurtling, apocalyptic tale, we meet the grown-up children of Dr. Felix Hoenikker, the absent-minded "father of the atomic bomb," who have the only example of their father's last discovery--ice-nine. From Ilium, New York we travel to a Caribbean banana republic where Bokononism is practiced--and ice-nine begins to overtake mankind.
Kurt Vonnegut's first novel, Player Piano, published in 1952, heralded the beginning of one of the most diverting and provocative adventures in modern American fiction. Vonnegut went on to write novels that perhaps had greater formal skill and technique, but Player Piano is a tour de force of imaginative insight into modern life and a shrewd satire of American progress. What must Vonnegut's first readers have made of Player Piano? The story gives off the dank chill of 1984 and Brave New World, b... more info>>
Unstuck in time, the hero of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five--an unforgettable Everyman named Billy Pilgrim--is never sure what part of his life he is going to have to act in next. Vonnegut's wildly imaginative, witty and affecting novel tells Billy Pilgrim's story in just that fashion. It spins back and forth through time, layering in the elements of Billy's life, which begins, chronologically, in 1922 in the upstate New York town of Ilium, and ends over 50 years later, when he is a success... more info>>
"His best book," Esquire wrote of Kurt Vonnegut's 1959 novel The Sirens of Titan, adding, "he dares not only to ask the ultimate question about the meaning of life, but to answer it." This novel fits into that aspect of the Vonnegut canon that might be classified as science fiction, a quality that once led Time to describe Vonnegut as "George Orwell, Dr. Caligari and Flash Gordon compounded into one writer ... a zany but moral mad scientist." The Sirens of Titan was perhaps the novel that began ... more info>>