House Logo
Explore categories +

Kurt Vonnegut (#110 of 2)

In Library of America We Trust Kurt Vonnegut: Novels & Stories 1963-1973

Comments Comments (...)

In Library of America We Trust: Kurt Vonnegut: Novels & Stories 1963-1973
In Library of America We Trust: Kurt Vonnegut: Novels & Stories 1963-1973

“The drama of any air raid on a civilian population, a gesture in diplomacy to a man like Henry Kissinger, is about the inhumanity of many of man’s inventions to man. That is the dominant theme of what I have written during the past forty-five years or so.” So says Kurt Vonnegut in a special preface to Slaughterhouse-Five, a preface that is now in the final section of an excellent new Library of America collection of Vonnegut’s early novels and writings.

The Library of America is a nonprofit publisher that has, since 1982, been releasing a canon of our nation’s finest fiction and prettiest poetry, our most serious speeches and most legitimate journalism. LoA books are hardbound, printed on Bible paper, and contain a sewn-in ribbon bookmark and calligraphy on the cover. Many editions top 1,000 pages in length. The texts are edited by scholars and feature notes, a chronology of the author’s life, and corrections to the errors of earlier editions. What they lack in the scholarship of a Norton Critical Edition they make up for in elegance, in providing at a reasonable price the pleasures of a solidly bound, densely packed, good old book.

The most recent LoA release is Kurt Vonnegut: Novels and Stories 1963-1973. The bulk of the volume consists of four of Vonnegut’s better novels: Cat’s Cradle, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Slaughterhouse-Five, and Breakfast of Champions. Also included are short stories, speeches, addenda to Slaughterhouse-Five, as well as a very haunting and dear letter Vonnegut wrote to his family in 1945 after surviving the fire bombing of Dresden.

The Pale King Is a Heady Conundrum

Comments Comments (...)

The Pale King Is a Heady Conundrum
The Pale King Is a Heady Conundrum

It’s easy to dislike an author. A lot of people think Charles Bukowski bit one hell of a hole in the literary scene back in the latter half of the 20th century, but watching his relationship antics on YouTube is just a little disgusting. Others say the same thing about Hunter S. Thompson: love the books, can’t stand the author’s carefully orchestrated über-gonzo ways. And David Foster Wallace’s inclination toward elitist sentiments have often been a cause for readers to eschew the author, though it’s more difficult to find something to hate in his work. Today, no matter how one feels about the man himself, it will be hard to ignore his impact on the book world with the release of his incomplete, posthumous novel.

The Pale King brings readers on a trip through the lives of those who clock in with the Internal Revenue Service. Wallace himself plays a role in the story, a fact that has led to unending attention in publishing circles and in the media. Throughout his writing, The Pale King included, one has to marvel at Wallace’s surgical ability to manhandle the thoughts of average folk. For most, those thoughts have never been so genuinely plotted as they are when filtered through the analytical fortune cookie found in Wallace’s soul. Even in the novel’s incomplete form, Wallace proves his ability to hijack rambling streams of vague, while-you-load-the-dishwasher realizations and chisel them into lettered works of art.