Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Browsing Area Book of the Week, October 1, 2012

And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life by Charles J. Shields.  Library Call Number PS3752.O5Z855 2011.

Review from Publisher’s Weekly: Vonnegut initially refused to grant an interview to Shields…but then relented, enabling Shields to meet him during the last months of his life. This first authorized biography probes both Vonnegut's creative struggles and family life, detailing his transition from "the bowery of the book world" to counterculture icon. Shields delivers a vivid recreation of Vonnegut's ghastly WWII experiences as a POW during the Dresden firebombing that became the basis for Slaughterhouse-Five; the novel brought him overnight fame when it was serialized in Ramparts magazine and then published in a month when 453 Americans were killed in Vietnam. Tragedies and triumphs are contrasted throughout, along with an adroit literary analysis that highlights obscure or overlooked influences on Vonnegut:: Ambrose Bierce, Céline, Robert Coover's metafiction and Paul Rhymer, who scripted radio's Vic and Sade. With access to more than 1,500 letters, Shields conducted hundreds of interviews to produce this engrossing, definitive biography [which] arrives during a year of renewed interest in Vonnegut.

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