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Slaughterhouse Five (#110 of 2)

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

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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.

Lost Recap: Season 3, Episode 21, “Greatest Hits”

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Lost Recap: Season 3, Episode 21, “Greatest Hits”
Lost Recap: Season 3, Episode 21, “Greatest Hits”

Lost, as both a show and cultural phenomenon, is indebted to so many different sub-genres of popular fiction that it’s to be expected viewer enjoyment will fluctuate from week-to-week depending simply on which color of the spectrum it chooses to paint with. Most often herded into the “ghetto” of sci-fi/fantasy, I’ve always found the show most effective when it adhered closest to the premise established in its groundbreaking first season: a group of people from all over the globe, brought together on a deserted island, working together to survive in the face of hardship and unexplained phenomena. I’ve often ridiculed the characters on this show for their lack of depth, yet I still appreciate it when the show takes a step back and allows its cast to inhabit their surroundings and play within the group dynamic in a way that has nothing to do with evading a giant smoke monster, hurtling over supersonic force-fields, or conversing with Jacob the demigod-cum-ghost pirate. There have been recent high-points to be sure (most recently the Sun and Jin episode “D.O.C.” which had all the stiff-upper-lip heartache of an O. Henry story) but, by and large, sometimes it feels like the show has simply lost interest in the drama inherent in its own set-up.