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Fates Worse Than Death: An Autobiographical Collage

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
These 21 essays, combining personal recollections and political reiterations, lack a unifying theme; they are likely to disappoint even Vonnegut fans. (Sept.)
Library Journal
This is a stimulating if rambling book of essays that discusses everything from the ugliness of the 1988 presidential campaign to male bonding in the stories of Ernest Hemingway. Maybe because Vonnegut has never hung around political speechwriters, he is pessimistic about the future of life on Earth and frankly nostalgic for the days when we were free of the certain knowledge that we would make this planet uninhabitable. Yet on the positive side, he sees in this country a decrease in racism (which he concedes may be only temporary). Some of the ideas here will be familiar to Vonnegut readers, such as the unnecessary bombing of Dresden or the now outrageous fact that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, but all are offered in the hope of improving our chances at survival and often with disarming humor. Moralize, he tells young writers, but be sure to sound reader-friendly, like Cervantes rather than Cotton Mather. Recommended for most collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/91.-- Jack Shreve, Allegany Community Coll., Cumberland, Md.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425134061
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/28/1992
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 698,110
  • Product dimensions: 6.11 (w) x 9.05 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut was forever established in the literary pantheon and on the school syllabus with the publication of his brilliant antiwar novel Slaughterhouse-Five, but he endured as a purveyor of mind-warping, surreal fiction that just so happened to be funny.

Biography

Born in 1922, Vonnegut grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. His architect father suffered great financial setbacks during the Depression and was unemployed for long stretches of time. His mother suffered from mental illness and eventually committed suicide in 1944, a trauma that haunted Vonnegut all his life. He attended Cornell in the early 1940s, but quit in order to enlist in the Army during WWII.

Vonnegut was shipped to Europe, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and was captured behind enemy lines and incarcerated in a German prison camp. As a POW, he witnessed the firebombing of Dresden by Allied forces, an event of devastating magnitude that left an indelible impression on the young soldier.

After the war, Vonnegut returned home and married his high school sweetheart. In addition to two daughters and a son of their own, he and his first wife adopted three children orphaned in 1958 by the death of Vonnegut's sister Alice. (He and his second wife adopted another daughter.) The family lived in Chicago and Schenectady before settling in Cape Cod, where Vonnegut began to concentrate seriously on his writing. His first novel, the darkly dystopian Player Piano, was published in 1952 and met with moderate success. Three additional novels followed (including the critically acclaimed Cat's Cradle), but it was not until the publication of 1969's Slaughterhouse Five that Vonnegut achieved true literary stardom. Based on the author's wartime experiences in Dresden, the novel resonated powerfully in the social upheaval of the Vietnam era.

Although he is best known for his novels (a genre-blending mix of social satire, science fiction, surrealism, and black comedy), Vonnegut also wrote short fiction, essays, and plays (the best known of which was Happy Birthday, Wanda June). In addition, he was a talented graphic artist who illustrated many of his books and exhibited sporadically during his literary career. He died on April 11, 2007, after suffering irreversible brain injuries as a result of a fall.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Kurt Vonnegut
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 11, 1922
    2. Place of Birth:
      Indianapolis, Indiana
    1. Date of Death:
      April 11, 2007
    2. Place of Death:
      New York, New York

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2003

    Vonnegut's Philosophy

    Wampeteres, Fomas, and Grandfaloons, Palm Sunday, and Fates Worse than Death are all the same basic type of book. They are insites into Vonnegut's mind and his philosophies on the world. Fates Worse than Death is the best one for me, probably because it is the most modern and therefore closer to my time. However, they are all good and worth reading for any Vonnegut fan.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2011

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