Hocus Pocus

( 41 )

Overview

From the author of Timequake, this "irresistible" novel (Cleveland Plain Dealer) tells the story of Eugene Debs Hartke-Vietnam veteran, jazz pianist, college professor, and prognosticator of the apocalypse. It's "Vonnegut's best novel in years-funny and prophetic...something special." (The Nation)

A small, exclusive college in upstate New York is nestled along the frozen shores of Lake Mohiga . . . and directly across from a maximum-security prison. The two ...

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Hocus Pocus

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Overview

From the author of Timequake, this "irresistible" novel (Cleveland Plain Dealer) tells the story of Eugene Debs Hartke-Vietnam veteran, jazz pianist, college professor, and prognosticator of the apocalypse. It's "Vonnegut's best novel in years-funny and prophetic...something special." (The Nation)

A small, exclusive college in upstate New York is nestled along the frozen shores of Lake Mohiga . . . and directly across from a maximum-security prison. The two institutions manage to coexist peacefully, until 10,000 prisoners break out and head directly for the college. "Sharp-toothed satire . . . absurd humor."--San Francisco Chronicle.

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Editorial Reviews

Jay McInerney
It is the most richly detailed and textured of Mr. Vonnegut's renderings of this particular planet. Unlike many of his major characters, Hartke seems like a real person, and Scipio seems like a real town. Some readers may miss the wilder leaps of imagination and the whimsy, but what is gained is a muscular dignity of voice that only rarely is tendentious. And, like outer space in The Sirens of Titan, Hocus Pocus is not without ''empty heroics, low comedy, and pointless death.''
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
While awaiting trial for an initially unspecified crime, Vietnam vet and college professor Eugene Debs Hartke realizes that he has killed exactly as many people as he has had sex with, a coincidence that causes him to doubt his atheism. According to PW , ``The cumulative power of the novel is considerable, revealing Vonnegut at his fanciful and playful best.'' Nov.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425130216
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/28/1991
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 232,671
  • Product dimensions: 6.76 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author

Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut, whose dark comic talent and urgent moral vision in novels like Slaughterhouse-Five, Cat’s Cradle, and Hocus Pocus, caught the temper of his times and the imagination of a generation, died in 2007 at the age of 84.

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

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 41 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(26)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 41 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2006

    Hocus Pocus

    Very funny. Classic Vonnegut. The tale is appealing in the sense of plot, but also has a meaning. Great for a Vonnegut fan.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2003

    hocus pocus

    i loved it! When i first started reading it i thought it to be slow moving, so i put it down and started to read another vonnegut novel(slapstick, i think). Well, about a week later i couldnt stop thinking about debbs. I picked it up again that night and didn't sleep untill it was done. When i think back on it, it has to be one of his best. this book sticks to your ribs. mmm.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2003

    Hocus Pocus from the teenage perspective

    I'm new to the world of Vonnegut; this is the fourth book I've read in his novel panoply. Hocus-Pocus is brilliant and darkly humorous. It's the autobiography of Eugene Debs Hartke, a Vietnam vet who is embroiled in the siege of a community college at the hands of escaped convicts. This is the typical Kurt Vonnegut novel, filled with biting sarcasm and gallows humor. I highly recommend this one-- it's hard to put down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2013

    The 3 B's

    Bing Bong and Boing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2012

    :)

    Thus a good book

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  • Posted June 12, 2011

    FATHER+WAS+A+SOCIALIST

    All+I+needed+to+know+from+this+book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2009

    Little of interest

    I don't know how it got published!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    VONNEGUT!

    Hilarious; one of my favorites.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2005

    Snowshack reading at the best I had it!

    Through the summer I worked at a little snochack and I read planty of great books (Chuck Palahniuks stuff, Kurt Vonnegut) I had some of the most fun reading Vonneguts Hocus Pocus. though it can not measure up to Slaughter House Five I still enjoyed it amazingly. the whole math thing at the end perplexed me since I am obvioulsy a reader not a mathmatician. and I also dont nkow if I screwed up or not and I am not sure if that number came to 1 or 0 it drives me mad to this day. I could not find if the ame of that movie was 2001 or 2000 and so my eventual answer is shady. nevertheless I absolutely loved this one this is one of vonneguts best a long with Slaughter House Five and Breakfast of Champions

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2003

    Awesome book.......

    ...but then again every Vonnegut book i read turns out awesome. Hocus Pocus is especially great because the main character is so likeable despite his great faults. the last line of the novel is especially unforgettable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2002

    My Hocus Pocus

    There is something too puzzling about Kurt Vonnegut's Hocus Pocus, though I liked it. It's pleasant to read because of the subtle breaks from beginning to end and also because of the mixture of genres. Puzzling and mixture of genres go well together. I don't like science fiction and don't read it, but the serving of it in Hocus Pocus is palatable--or maybe 'fantasy' is better. Personally, so much is wrong with America that a puzzling effect strikes me as appropriate. The narrative voice is charming and, from the first page, we are clued in to the immortal subject of man and his fate, or Man. Man has common traits; history has common elements. It seems man with his problem has to have a charming voice somehow. America is in trouble, according to Eugene Debs Hartke, our illustrious narrator. 'At least the World will end, an event anticipated with great joy by many,' he asserts at the start. I judge the novel to be a very fine and worthwhile construction inasmuch as Vonnegut deftly brings in the contexts of wasteland and apocalyptic literature. What better sty of contentment for man to sit in? An unknown son, Rob Roy, even sprouts at the end. Eugene is very sympathetic and wins me over from the get go. Although Vonnegut chooses atheism for his belief, Eugene is a very understanding and intelligent character. Time and luck move the world, Eugene says. Nihilism is the milieu in which Eugene proceeds. Society is imprisoning all of its social problems. The book begins at the end, but the narrator's life proceeds from childhood, to West Point, to the Vietnam War, to Tarkington College, to Athena Prison, and finally to Brigadier General in the National Guard (all dressed up and nowhere to go). He is a prisoner awaiting trial at the end of his life. He is literally and figuratively fired at Tarkington College. He was too negative a teacher, in Jason Wilder's view. Throughout all of that, Eugene illustrates the helplessness of man vis-a-vis the inexorableness of fate. Therefore, his pessimism all through is correct. He is fed up with the human race. It is interesting to ponder the irony of Eugene's becoming a teacher again in the prison after he is fired at Tarkington. Man's values are too awry, perhaps? The social problems of the United States, a 'crock of doo-doo,' definitely form the landscape in which Eugene is both a hapless citizen and perceptive critic. Man that is living is having lots of bad luck. Vonnegut would like us to consider the prison/college parallel. What is so difficult about developing man's potential? Lawlessness and disorder will prevail and spread if man does not examine and establish a judicious value system. 'I did not have to ask the meaning of all this. It was obvious that Tarkington College, which as the prison across the lake had grown and grown, was itself a prison now.' It's all well and good for the prison's warden, Matsumoto, to believe education is beneficial. However, a prison is not the right locale to live that belief in. So, where does Vonnegut locate faith and hope for man? Well, it's not a book about faith and hope, to be sure. I believe that Vonnegut is teaching us that faith and hope for man's regeneration lie in Eugene's (and, by extension, man's) own questioning, probing attitude toward the chaos enveloping him. Sorry but the destructiveness is too embedded. Man can turn to a kinder source of ethics. Witness, for example, that Sam Wakefield reappears later in the novel as a Christ image. Would you develop that? I don't know. Hocus pocus, after all, is not a value system.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2002

    Hocus Pocus

    Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. 302pages Hocus Pocus is about a Vietnam Veteran who takes you on a voyage through his life and bits of the present. He takes a humorous outlook on the events of his life. What makes this book interesting is the events that take place in the non-existent character¿s life and how he tells them. His whole life has been affected by the Vietnam War. His wife and his mother-in-law have gone crazy yet he still lives with them. He works at a college for the mentally challenged rich kids of the world. He eventually goes to work at a nearby prison and is actually sent to prison in later life. For the duration of the book, you are wondering about a certain detail that the author holds until the end. When the end does come about, the wondering is ceased by a complicated answer to the desired question. All in all the book must be read in order to grasp the true feeling of Kurt Vonnegut¿s writings. ~Andrew Robinson

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2000

    A view point from a TEEN,, yes a teenager

    Hocus Pocus is actually quite interesting. At first I didn't think so, but its great. Its not too long and definately keeps your interest. From the Vietnam war to teaching and the prison, this is certainly a book you should read. If you like a humorus but also serious book, you'll love this!! Especially if your a fan of Vonnegut.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2000

    Perfect in every way!

    This has completely changed my mind about Vonnegut. He is a literary genius. He does not follow the rules of conventional literature. He is a master satirist. One book everybody should have to read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2000

    Wonderful Satire

    Eugene Debs Hartke takes the reader on a wild ride full of digressions, obscure facts, and aphorisms. The the small, upstate New York town nestled along the frozen shores of Lake Mohiga that Eugene describes is an interesting study in contrasts, as is the life that is related to the reader. A very enjoyable satire that asks the question of, 'Why are we here?' and 'What is the real meaning of life?' right up to the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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