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Vonnegut NEWS

Kurt Vonnegut's If This Isn't Nice, What Is?: Advice to the Young - the Graduation Speeches, just out, has landed on the New Atlantic Independent Bestseller List and the Barnes and Noble College Bookstore Bestseller list, and is now in its second big printing after features in the Nation, Brain Pickings, and the Onion's AV Club. From this past weekend's Printer's Row, the Sunday book review of the Chicago Tribune:

Through the book a kind of philosophy of life emerges, one that resists dullness and conformity, valorizes community, and rejects the metaphysical and oppressively dogmatic elements of organized Christianity while retaining a deep respect for Jesus as a moral exemplar. It's a philosophy that, above all, values human solidarity and compassion for other people. Like so much of Vonnegut's work, these speeches combine absurdist humor, pessimism and countercultural politics, with improbably and disarmingly charming results.

Dan Wakefield, who selected the speeches and wrote the introduction will be discussing them at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library on May 9, and at Barnes and Noble in NYC on May 16 along with Kurt Vonnegut's daughter Nanette, who has just released Drawings, a beautiful edition of Kurt's drawings and paintings from Monacelli Press.

Kurt Vonnegut Drawings


Written by Nanette Vonnegut,
Contribution by Peter Reed,
Contribution by Kurt Vonnegut

FORMAT: Hardcover
PAGES: 176
ISBN: 9781580933773
PRICE: $40.00
ON SALE: May 13, 2014

Order it HERE

Those who know Kurt Vonnegut as one of America's most beloved and influential writers will be surprised and delighted to discover that he was also a gifted graphic artist. This book brings together the finest examples of his funny, strange, and moving drawings in an inexpensive, beautifully produced gift volume for every Vonnegut fan.

Kurt Vonnegut's daughter Nanette introduces this volume of his never before published drawings with an intimate remembrance of her father. Vonnegut always drew, and many of his novels contain sketches. Breakfast of Champions (1973) included many felt-tip pen drawings, and he had a show in 1983 of his drawings at New York's Margo Feiden Gallery, but really got going in the early 1990s when he became acquainted with the screenprinter Joe Petro III, who became his partner in making his colorful drawings available as silkscreens.

With a touch of cubism, mixed with a Paul Klee gift for caricature, a Calder-like ability to balance color and line, and more than a touch of sixties psychedelic sensibility, Vonnegut's aesthetic is as idiosyncratic and defiant of tradition as his books. While writing came to be more onerous in his later years, making art became his joyful primary activity, and he made drawings up until his death in 2007. This volume, and a planned touring exhibition of the drawings, will introduce Vonnegut's legion of fans to an entirely new side of his irrepressible creative personality.

Kurt Vonnegut & Saul Steinberg

Confetti 23

You can find some interesting background with some great photos here.

Unstuck in Time: A Journey Through Kurt Vonnegut's Life and Novels

Unstuck in Time In Unstuck in Time, Gregory Sumner guides us, with insight and passion, through a biography of fifteen of Kurt Vonnegut’s best known works, his fourteen novels starting with Player Piano (1952) all the way to an epilogue on his last book, A Man Without a Country (2005), to illustrate the quintessential American writer’s profound engagement with the "American Dream" in its various forms. Sumner gives us a poignant portrait of Vonnegut and his resistance to celebrating the traditional values associated with the American Dream: grandiose ambition, unbridled material success, rugged individualism, and "winners" over "losers." Instead of a celebration of these values, we read and share Vonnegut’s outrage, his brokenhearted empathy for those who struggle under the ethos of survival-of-the-fittest in the frontier mentality—something he once memorably described as "an impossibly tough-minded experiment in loneliness." Heroic and tragic, Vonnegut’s novels reflect the pain of his own life’s experiences, relieved by small acts of kindness, friendship, and love that exemplify another way of living, another sort of human utopia, an alternative American Dream, and the reason we always return to his books.

Buy it on Amazon HERE.

This is 2011? Right?: Missouri School District Bans 'Slaughterhouse-Five'

Banned in Missouri

The school board in Republic, Missouri, USA voted 4-0 to eliminate Mr. Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five and another book from their school curriculum and library, following a complaint. In the case of Mr. Vonnegut's work, the main complaint was about "so much profane language, it would make a sailor blush with shame."

Of the persons on the panel voting on the banning, only one had actually read the book, according to UPI.

You can read more about this idiocy here, here and here, and in numerous other places.

The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis is crafting an official response, and the ACLU has been consulted. Donations to either will help in this fight against censorship.

If we might be so bold, we'd like to close with a quote from the great man himself:

"All these people talk so eloquently about getting back to good old-fashioned values… and I say let’s get back to the good old-fashioned First Amendment of the good old-fashioned Constitution of the United States — and to hell with the censors! Give me knowledge or give me death!"

- Kurt Vonnegut

UPDATE: The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis will be giving away free copies of Slaughterhouse-Five to students from Republic, Missouri’s high school. If you're a student, you can go their site and request one, and if you're the kind of person who thinks that censorship has no place in 21st century America, you can go there to make a donation to help them cover their costs.

Donald Farber on the Legacy of Kurt Vonnegut

From an interview on chuckpalahniuk.net, by Joshua Chaplinsky:

While Mortals Sleep...[T]his past January saw the publication of While Mortals Sleep, the latest offering of the master satirist's unpublished short fiction, as well as the grand opening of The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in his home town of Indianapolis. The term "memorial" aside, this doesn't feel like the posthumous appreciation of a writer's memory to me. It feels more like the recognition afforded a hard-working writer in his prime.

New Vonnegut is an exciting prospect for any reader, but can be a cause of concern for the reviewer. There are only so many ways to laud one man's work without sounding repetitive. So instead of recycling the gushing praise of my Look At The Birdie review, I decided to go for a different approach. Obviously an interview with the man was out of the question, but I may have scored the next best thing. An interview with agent, business manager and life-long friend, Donald Farber...

Read the full interview online HERE.

With Humor and Hints of Klee, Kurt Vonnegut's Artworks Charm at His New Indianapolis Museum


When the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library opens in the late author's hometown of Indianapolis on January 29, visitors will be able to discover not only the Smith Corona typewriter he used in writing his many novels (and the multiple rejection notices he received from magazines over his long career), but also drawings and silkscreens from his lesser-known sideline as an artist. The light-hearted, often comical artworks are the product of Vonnegut's lifelong habit of doodling as a break from writing — a creative outlet that the author began to take more seriously in the 1970s, penning illustrations for his novels and, over time, exhibiting in galleries in Denver, Northampton, Massachusetts, the Hamptons, and New York.

Read the full article online HERE.

Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So

More than thirty years after the publication of his acclaimed memoir The Eden Express, Mark Vonnegut continues his remarkable story in this searingly funny, iconoclastic account of coping with mental illness, finding his calling as a pediatrician, and learning that willpower isn’t nearly enough.

Here is Mark’s childhood spent as the son of a struggling writer in a house that eventually held seven children after his aunt and uncle died and left four orphans. And here is the world after Mark was released from a mental hospital to find his family forever altered. At the late age of twenty-eight — and after nineteen rejections — Mark was accepted to Harvard Medical School, where he gained purpose, a life, and some control over his condition.

The brilliantly evoked events of Mark Vonnegut’s life are at once perfectly unique and achingly relatable. There are the manic episodes, during which he felt burdened with saving the world, juxtaposed against the real-world responsibilities of running a pediatric practice. At times he felt that his parents’ lives would improve if only they had a few hundred more bucks in their bank account, while at other points his father’s fame merely heightened expectations that he be better, funnier (and crazier) than the average person.

Ultimately a tribute to the small, daily, and positive parts of a life interrupted by bipolar disorder, Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So is a wise, unsentimental, and inspiring book that will resonate with generations of readers.

You can buy the book through Amazon.com here.

Look at the Birdie: Unpublished Short Fiction

Look at the Birdie: Unpublished Short Fiction

Look at the Birdie: Unpublished Short Fiction

Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press (October 20, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 038534371X
ISBN-13: 978-0385343718

Buy It Now on Amazon


Dave Eggers wrote a review of the book for the New York Times Sunday Book Review. Titled "One for the Good Guys," you can read it in its entirety here.

EVOLUTIONARY MYTHOLOGY IN THE WRITINGS OF KURT VONNEGUT: Darwin,Vonnegut and the Construction of an American Culture

by Gilbert McInnis

Academica Press 9781933146-99-7

Release date: 09/15/2010

This research monograph is an important contribution to the study of the author, Kurt Vonnegut and the great evolutionary scientist Charles Darwin. The book examines Darwin’s influence on the American culture that were Vonnegut's major focus and interest and the source of his importance as a major American writer of the later half of the 20th century.

This book is relevant in its attempt to understand, in Vonnegut’s novels, how Darwin’s theory of evolution functions as a cosmogonic myth that is widely accepted in order to explain why the world is as it is and why things happen as they do, to provide a rationale for social customs and observances, and to establish the sanctions for the rules by which Vonnegut’s characters conduct their lives. Moreover, this book deals with how and why Kurt Vonnegut’s fiction represents the changing human image resulting from Darwinism. The author discovered and developed his literary theory of “Evolution as a Mythology” from the novel Galápagos (Kurt Vonnegut,1985). McInnis persuasively developed theory suggests changes to the American (and English) literary landscape with a new and dynamic way to interpret literature, something the literary field has not seen since since Jean-Francois Lyotard described his ideas on narrative in his essay, the “Postmodern Condition,” published in Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction in the early 1980’s.

The Table of Contents includes:

1. Darwinism, Social Darwinism, and Mythology
2. Mythology and Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection in Galapagos
3. The Principles of the Evolutionary Mythology in Galapagos
4. The Sirens of Titan: Darwin, Einstein, and the Cosmological Connection
5. The Sirens of Titan: Quantum Mechanics, Einstein, and the In-Complete Story
6. Slaughterhouse-Five: Einstein, Natural Selection, and the Unified Story
7. Nazi Mythology and Totalitarian Minds in Mother Night
8. Adapting to the Evolutionary Mythology in Mother Night
9. The Mythology of the Consumer Society in Breakfast of Champions
10. Evolutionary Mythology in the Writings of Kurt Vonnegut

New Editions

Random House is redesigning Mr. Vonnegut's book covers over the next year and a half to make a uniform edition using his artwork on all the covers. Here's a few of them...



Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback; Reissue edition (January 12, 1999)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385333846
ISBN-13: 978-0385333849

Buy It Now on Amazon

Mother Night

Mother Night

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback; Reissue edition (May 11, 1999)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385334141
ISBN-13: 978-0385334143

Buy It Now on Amazon



Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback; Reissue edition (January 12, 1999)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385333870
ISBN-13: 978-0385333870

Buy It Now on Amazon

A Note From Mark Vonnegut

In accord with Kurt's wishes, a brief memorial service attended by family and close friends was held on Saturday, April 21, 2007 at the Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan.  An impromptu jazz group played traditional New Orleans music and guests sang along on "I'll Fly Away," "Down by the Riverside," and "Amazing Grace."

There was a lot of laughing and crying.  Prior to the service, dirt from his garden was deposited at The New York Public Library, the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Station, Times Square, and three places in Central Park -- the statue of Balto, the Avenue of Literature, and the Dairy Building.

We're all a little puzzled about what to do next but we'll think of something.

Mark Vonnegut
May 7, 2007

A Note From Nanny Vonnegut

Dear Fans of my Dad,

Over the years you have given my father the gift of unconditional love in return for all the great joy he clearly brought to you through his writing and his art.  For that gift, the greatest one there is, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I am so sorry for your loss as well as mine. 

Nanny Vonnegut
June 1, 2007

A Note From Edie Vonnegut

I never expected Kurt to actually die. He was supposed to break the code and live forever. I’m pretty disillusioned right now. When I was very young, like 12, I went to his study to ask him for answers to this world. He said he didn’t know any more than I did and that he was experiencing everything I was at the very same time. I think it was during the Cuban missile crisis and I was scared. He said he didn’t have a clue. From there on out I regarded him as a fellow clueless comrade who had no extra advantage or wisdom above me. He pulled no rank as ‘Father’ and for that I am eternally grateful. 

Though he was the smartest man I ever met and I am rather limited.

Even so he made me feel equal at a very early age and taught me to question authority where ever I found it.

Thank you everyone out there for getting him and loving him and missing him.

Edie Vonnegut

A Note From Joe Petro III

Thank you for your notes of support and sympathy.  Kurt will be greatly missed, by his admirers, by his friends, by his family.  Over the years, the employees of Origami Express (that would be Kurt and I) talked about how Kurt's artworks and books would live on after him.  So Origami Express will continue to preserve Kurt's art presence by cataloguing and posting his original prints, including releasing never-before-seen editions.  

And to my friend Kurt, thanks for the dance.

Joe Petro III
May 7, 2007

A Note From Donald C. Farber

I'm the guy who attended to all of Kurt's business. I'm the guy who got all of his fan mail, including the offers of marriage and the avowals of every loving devotion. 

Every experience with Kurt was one that always left me feeling good even when he was not happy with the injustices he envisioned in the world around him.  Kurt was a profound thinker, a truly sensitive, caring person who empathized with all people, without any consideration of their station in life or where they hailed from. 

His life and work are an inspiration to all of us.  He always left me laughing and now he has left me crying.

Donald C. Farber
May 7, 2007

Photo by Joe Petro III

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