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Vonnegut's 14 novels, while each does its own thing, together are nevertheless experiments in the same overall project. Experimenting with the form of the American novel itself, Vonnegut engages in a broadly modernist attempt to apprehend and depict the fragmented, unstable, and distressing bizarreries of postmodern American experience That he does not actually succeed in representing the shifting multiplicities of that social experience is beside the point.

What matters is the attempt, and the recognition that The asteroid Vonnegut is named in his honor. In the introduction to Slaughterhouse-Five Vonnegut recounts meeting filmmaker Harrison Starr at a party who asked him whether his forthcoming book was an anti-war novel — "I guess" replied Vonnegut. Starr responded "Why don't you write an anti-glacier novel?

This underlined Vonnegut's belief that wars were, unfortunately, inevitable, but that it was important to ensure the wars one fought were just wars. In , NPR wrote, "Kurt Vonnegut's blend of anti-war sentiment and satire made him one of the most popular writers of the s. Bush administration led him to write A Man Without a Country. Slaughterhouse-Five is the Vonnegut novel best known for its antiwar themes, but the author expressed his beliefs in ways beyond the depiction of the destruction of Dresden.

One character, Mary O'Hare, opines that "wars were partly encouraged by books and movies", made by " Frank Sinatra or John Wayne or some of those other glamorous, war-loving, dirty old men".

Nuclear war , or at least deployed nuclear arms , is mentioned in almost all of Vonnegut's novels. In Player Piano , the computer EPICAC is given control of the nuclear arsenal, and is charged with deciding whether to use high-explosive or nuclear arms. In Cat's Cradle , John's original purpose in setting pen to paper was to write an account of what prominent Americans had been doing as Hiroshima was bombed. Kevorkian , Vonnegut was an atheist and a humanist , serving as the honorary president of the American Humanist Association.

In his autobiographical work Palm Sunday , Vonnegut says he is a "Christ-worshipping agnostic"; [96] in a speech to the Unitarian Universalist Association , he called himself a "Christ-loving atheist". However, he was keen to stress that he was not a Christian. Vonnegut was an admirer of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount , particularly the Beatitudes , and incorporated it into his own doctrines.

He despised the televangelists of the late 20th century, feeling that their thinking was narrow-minded. Religion features frequently in Vonnegut's work, both in his novels and elsewhere. He laced a number of his speeches with religion-focused rhetoric, [90] [91] and was prone to using such expressions as "God forbid" and "thank God".

Kevorkian , Vonnegut goes to heaven after he is euthanized by Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Once in heaven, he interviews 21 deceased celebrities, including Isaac Asimov , William Shakespeare , and Kilgore Trout —the last a fictional character from several of his novels.

Slaughterhouse-Five sees Billy Pilgrim, lacking religion himself, nevertheless become a chaplain's assistant in the military and display a large crucifix on his bedroom wall. Vonnegut did not particularly sympathize with liberalism or conservatism , and mused on the specious simplicity of American politics, saying facetiously, "If you want to take my guns away from me, and you're all for murdering fetuses, and love it when homosexuals marry each other If you are against those perversions and for the rich, you're a conservative.

What could be simpler? The people don't acknowledge this. They claim membership in two imaginary parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, instead. Vonnegut disregarded more mainstream political ideologies in favor of socialism , which he thought could provide a valuable substitute for what he saw as social Darwinism and a spirit of " survival of the fittest " in American society, [] believing that "socialism would be a good for the common man". Debs : "As long as there is a lower class, I am in it. As long as there is a criminal element, I'm of it.

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As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free. Vonnegut's writing was inspired by an eclectic mix of sources. When he was younger, Vonnegut stated that he read works of pulp fiction , science fiction, fantasy, and action-adventure. He also read the classics , such as the plays of Aristophanes —like Vonnegut's works, humorous critiques of contemporary society. Both shared pessimistic outlooks on humanity, and a skeptical take on religion, and, as Vonnegut put it, were both "associated with the enemy in a major war", as Twain briefly enlisted in the South's cause during the American Civil War , and Vonnegut's German name and ancestry connected him with the United States' enemy in both world wars.


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Vonnegut called George Orwell his favorite writer, and admitted that he tried to emulate Orwell. Vonnegut commented that Robert Louis Stevenson 's stories were emblems of thoughtfully put together works that he tried to mimic in his own compositions. She took short-story courses at night. She studied magazines the way gamblers study racing forms. Early on in his career, Vonnegut decided to model his style after Henry David Thoreau , who wrote as if from the perspective of a child, allowing Thoreau's works to be more widely comprehensible.

Wells , and satirist Jonathan Swift. Vonnegut credited American journalist and critic H. Mencken for inspiring him to become a journalist. Sharp describes Vonnegut's linguistic style as straightforward; his sentences concise, his language simple, his paragraphs brief, and his ordinary tone conversational. He credited his time as a journalist for his ability, pointing to his work with the Chicago City News Bureau, which required him to convey stories in telephone conversations. Vonnegut believed that ideas, and the convincing communication of those ideas to the reader, were vital to literary art.

He did not always sugarcoat his points: much of Player Piano leads up to the moment when Paul, on trial and hooked up to a lie detector, is asked to tell a falsehood, and states, "every new piece of scientific knowledge is a good thing for humanity". Tally Jr. The large artificial families that the U. Kunze suggest that Vonnegut was not a " black humorist ", but a "frustrated idealist" who used "comic parables" to teach the reader absurd, bitter or hopeless truths, with his grim witticisms serving to make the reader laugh rather than cry.

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Vonnegut's works have, at various times, been labeled science fiction, satire and postmodern. In several of his books, Vonnegut imagines alien societies and civilizations, as is common in works of science fiction. Vonnegut does this to emphasize or exaggerate absurdities and idiosyncrasies in our own world. However, literary theorist Robert Scholes noted in Fabulation and Metafiction that Vonnegut "reject[s] the traditional satirist's faith in the efficacy of satire as a reforming instrument.

Postmodernism often entails a response to the theory that the truths of the world will be discovered through science. They often use unreliable , first-person narration , and narrative fragmentation. One critic has argued that Vonnegut's most famous novel, Slaughterhouse-Five , features a metafictional , Janus-headed outlook as it seeks both to represent actual historical events while problematizing the very notion of doing exactly that. This is encapsulated in the opening lines of the novel: "All this happened, more or less.

The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true. Vonnegut was a vocal critic of the society in which he lived, and this was reflected in his writings. Several key social themes recur in Vonnegut's works, such as wealth, the lack of it, and its unequal distribution among a society. In The Sirens of Titan , the novel's protagonist, Malachi Constant, is exiled to one of Saturn 's moons, Titan , as a result of his vast wealth, which has made him arrogant and wayward. Rosewater , readers may find it difficult to determine whether the rich or the poor are in worse circumstances as the lives of both groups' members are ruled by their wealth or their poverty.

Debs and Vonnegut's socialist views. Then it comes to her. She can take one of the many novels she has written over the previous nine years, all of which have been rejected by umpteen book agents and publishing houses, and slap them up on Amazon and other digital ebook sites. Surely, she can sell a few copies to her family and friends? Let's jump to October Over the past 20 months Hocking has sold 1. All by her lonesome self.

Not a single book agent or publishing house or sales force or marketing manager or bookshop anywhere in sight. So let the historians take note: Amanda Hocking does get to Chicago to see the Muppets. And along the way she helps to foment a revolution in global publishing.

I've come to Austin, legendary birthplace of Spam the canned as opposed to the digital version , to find out what this self-publishing revolution looks like in the flesh. I can report that, from the outside, it's surprisingly conventional. Hocking no longer lives in that pokey apartment, but then she's no longer a struggling would-be author. She's bought herself her own detached home, the building block of the American dream, replete with gables and extensions, its own plot of land, and a concrete ramp on which to park the car.

But step inside and convention gives way to a riot of colour. It is just before Christmas, and Hocking has decorated the house with several plastic trees bedecked in lights and two large Santa stockings pinned expectantly over the mantelpiece. The sofa is scattered with animals, some of the cuddly toy variety and others alive, notably Elroy the miniature schnauzer and Squeak the cat apparently they get on very well.

She greets me at the door and, without preamble, we talk for the next two hours about her extraordinary rags-to-riches tale and what it means for the future of the book. At 27, and with only a few months in the limelight, she is patently new to the fame game.

She seems nervous at first, answering my questions in short bursts and fiddling with her glasses; but gradually she relaxes as we discuss what for her has been the central passion of her life since an infant. She was brought up in the Minnesota countryside on the outskirts of Blooming Prairie about 15 miles north of Austin.

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Her parents divorced when she was young, money was tight and there was no cable TV to wallow in. I would go to the library, or get books at rummage sales. I got through them so quickly I started reading adult books because they were longer. I remember my mom giving me a box set of five books to last me all summer; I devoured them all in two weeks. It was a way, she now thinks, of coping with the depression that troubled her childhood. There wasn't a reason for it, I just was. I was sad and morose. I cried a lot, I wrote a lot, and I read a lot; and that was how I dealt with it.

What went in had to come out. The child Hocking began telling her own stories before she could walk.

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