Kurt Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis in 1922 and studied biochemistry at Cornell University. During WWII, as a prisoner of war in Germany, he witnessed the destruction of Dresden by Allied bombers, an experience which inspired Slaughterhouse Five. He died in 2007.
These 21 essays, combining personal recollections and political reiterations, lack a unifying theme; they are likely to disappoint even Vonnegut fans. (Sept.)
This is a stimulating if rambling book of essays that discusses everything from the ugliness of the 1988 presidential campaign to male bonding in the stories of Ernest Hemingway. Maybe because Vonnegut has never hung around political speechwriters, he is pessimistic about the future of life on Earth and frankly nostalgic for the days when we were free of the certain knowledge that we would make this planet uninhabitable. Yet on the positive side, he sees in this country a decrease in racism (which he concedes may be only temporary). Some of the ideas here will be familiar to Vonnegut readers, such as the unnecessary bombing of Dresden or the now outrageous fact that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, but all are offered in the hope of improving our chances at survival and often with disarming humor. Moralize, he tells young writers, but be sure to sound reader-friendly, like Cervantes rather than Cotton Mather. Recommended for most collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/91.-- Jack Shreve, Allegany Community Coll., Cumberland, Md.