Kurt Vonnegut's black humor, satiric voice, and incomparable imagination first captured America's attention in The Sirens of Titan in 1959 and established him as "a true artist" (The New York Times) with Cat's Cradle in 1963. He was, as Graham Greene declared, "one of the best living American writers." Mr. Vonnegut passed away in April 2007.
In his first book since 1999, it's just like old times as Vonnegut (now 82) makes with the deeply black humor in this collection of articles written over the last five years, many from the alternative magazine In These Times. But the pessimistic wisecracks may be wearing thin; the conversational tone of the pieces is like Garrison Keillor with a savage undercurrent. Still, the schtick works fine most of the time, underscored by hand-lettered aphorisms between chapters. Some essays suffer from authorial self-indulgence, however, like taking a dull story about mailing a manuscript and stretching it to interminable lengths. Vonnegut reserves special bile for the "psychopathic personalities" (i.e., "smart, personable people who have no consciences") in the Bush administration, which he accuses of invading Iraq so America can score more of the oil to which we have become addicted. People, he says, are just "chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power." Of course, that's exactly the sort of misanthropy hardcore Vonnegut fans will lap upAthe online versions of these pieces are already described as the most popular Web pages in the history of In These Times. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Nothing on this audio package reveals it, but this book is a collection of essays that Vonnegut published over the past five years, mostly in the antiestablishment magazine In These Times. It's an unstructured mix of discursive reminiscences, thoughts about writing, and diatribes about the insanities of the modern world-particularly those of the Bush administration. It's a thin book, but as it may be the closest thing to autobiography that the author will ever publish, his many devoted listeners will welcome it. The print edition with Vonnegut's handwritten aphorisms and illustrations might suffice for most libraries; however, narrator Norman Dietz adds a nearly perfect sardonic tone that makes this audio program worth listening to for its own sake. Recommended for most collections.-R. Kent Rasmussen, Thousand Oaks, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
"For all those who have lived with Vonnegut in their imaginations .
. . this is what he is like in person."-USA Today
"[This] may be as close as Vonnegut ever comes to a memoir."-Los Angeles Times
"Like [that of] his literary ancestor Mark Twain, [Kurt Vonnegut's] crankiness is good-humored and sharp-witted. . . . [Reading A Man Without a Country is] like sitting down on the couch for a long chat with an old friend."-The New York Times Book Review
"Filled with [Vonnegut's] usual contradictory mix of joy and sorrow, hope and despair, humor and gravity."-Chicago Tribune
"Fans will linger on every word . . . as once again [Vonnegut] captures the complexity of the human condition with stunning calligraphic simplicity."-The Australian
"Thank God, Kurt Vonnegut has broken his promise that he will never write another book. In this wondrous assemblage of mini-memoirs, we discover his family's legacy and his obstinate, unfashionable humanism."-Studs Terkel
"This book is nothing if not a big shot in the arm of concentrated hope."-The Sycamore Review
"No other American humorist see-saws from gravity to gobbledygook this effectively, in part because for Vonnegut the two are always connected. Life for him is deadly serious, bu the best way to deal with fear is to laugh in its face."-The Jerusalem Post