Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage

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“[Kurt Vonnegut] is either the funniest serious writer around or the most serious funny writer.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review

In this self-portrait by an American genius, Kurt Vonnegut writes with beguiling wit and poignant wisdom about his favorite comedians, country music, a dead friend, a dead marriage, and various cockamamie aspects of his all-too-human journey through life. This is a work that resonates with Vonnegut’s singular voice: the magic sound of a born storyteller mesmerizing us with truth.

“Vonnegut is at the top of his form, and it is wonderful.”—Newsday
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Additional Information

Publisher
Dial Press
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Published on
Sep 30, 2009
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9780307568069
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Literary Figures
Literary Collections / Essays
Literary Collections / Letters
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “For all those who have lived with Vonnegut in their imaginations . . . this is what he is like in person.”–USA Today

In a volume that is penetrating, introspective, incisive, and laugh-out-loud funny, one of the great men of letters of this age–or any age–holds forth on life, art, sex, politics, and the state of America’s soul. From his coming of age in America, to his formative war experiences, to his life as an artist, this is Vonnegut doing what he does best: Being himself. Whimsically illustrated by the author, A Man Without a Country is intimate, tender, and brimming with the scope of Kurt Vonnegut’s passions.

Praise for A Man Without a Country

“[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
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
Newsweek/The Daily Beast • The Huffington Post • Kansas City Star • Time Out New York • Kirkus Reviews

This extraordinary collection of personal correspondence has all the hallmarks of Kurt Vonnegut’s fiction. Written over a sixty-year period, these letters, the vast majority of them never before published, are funny, moving, and full of the same uncanny wisdom that has endeared his work to readers worldwide.
 
Included in this comprehensive volume: the letter a twenty-two-year-old Vonnegut wrote home immediately upon being freed from a German POW camp, recounting the ghastly firebombing of Dresden that would be the subject of his masterpiece Slaughterhouse-Five; wry dispatches from Vonnegut’s years as a struggling writer slowly finding an audience and then dealing with sudden international fame in middle age; righteously angry letters of protest to local school boards that tried to ban his work; intimate remembrances penned to high school classmates, fellow veterans, friends, and family; and letters of commiseration and encouragement to such contemporaries as Gail Godwin, Günter Grass, and Bernard Malamud.
 
Vonnegut’s unmediated observations on science, art, and commerce prove to be just as inventive as any found in his novels—from a crackpot scheme for manufacturing “atomic” bow ties to a tongue-in-cheek proposal that publishers be allowed to trade authors like baseball players. (“Knopf, for example, might give John Updike’s contract to Simon and Schuster, and receive Joan Didion’s contract in return.”) Taken together, these letters add considerable depth to our understanding of this one-of-a-kind literary icon, in both his public and private lives. Each letter brims with the mordant humor and openhearted humanism upon which he built his legend. And virtually every page contains a quotable nugget that will make its way into the permanent Vonnegut lexicon.
 
• On a job he had as a young man: “Hell is running an elevator throughout eternity in a building with only six floors.”
• To a relative who calls him a “great literary figure”: “I am an American fad—of a slightly higher order than the hula hoop.”
• To his daughter Nanny: “Most letters from a parent contain a parent’s own lost dreams disguised as good advice.”
• To Norman Mailer: “I am cuter than you are.”
 
Sometimes biting and ironical, sometimes achingly sweet, and always alive with the unique point of view that made him the true cultural heir to Mark Twain, these letters comprise the autobiography Kurt Vonnegut never wrote.

Praise for Kurt Vonnegut: Letters
 
“Splendidly assembled . . . familiar, funny, cranky . . . chronicling [Vonnegut’s] life in real time.”—Kurt Andersen, The New York Times Book Review
 
“[This collection is] by turns hilarious, heartbreaking and mundane. . . . Vonnegut himself is a near-perfect example of the same flawed, wonderful humanity that he loved and despaired over his entire life.”—NPR
 
“Congenial, whimsical and often insightful missives . . . one of [Vonnegut’s] very best.”—Newsday
 
“These letters display all the hallmarks of Vonnegut’s fiction—smart, hilarious and heartbreaking.”—The New York Times Book Review


From the Hardcover edition.
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