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Deadeye Dick [Kindle Edition]

Kurt Vonnegut
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Rudy Waltz (aka "Deadeye Dick") is the lead in this latter day Vonnegut novel. Waltz, our protagonist, moves through the book trying to make sense of a life that is rife with disaster; there is a double murder, a fatal dose of radioactivity, a decapitation, the total annihilation of a city by nuclear holocaust and, believe it or not, more. Waltz, a diarist, becomes symbolic of a person living a fraught post-technological life in which frailty is as likely to be a person's undoing as any bomb.

Waltz finally reaches the point of resignation; a realization and understanding that there are things that are just beyond our control and understanding that make all human motive, ambition, and circumstance absolutely irrelevant. Waltz's search for meaning leads him ultimately to a kind of resignation which ought not be confused with understanding of any kind, for it is not. It is simple resignation.

It is this theme of Vonnegut's--the impossibility of trying to live meaningfully in a meaningless world--that is ultimately central to this novel. Rudy Waltz (like some of Vonnegut's other protagonists, Billy Pilgrim or Howard Campbell) is ultimately only a stand-in for Vonnegut himself who is really narrating for us as the lead witness and character here--the philosopher who is telling us why and what for.


Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) is one of the most beloved American writers of the twentieth century. Vonnegut's audience increased steadily since his first five pieces in the 1950s and grew from there. His 1968 novel Slaughterhouse-Five has become a canonic war novel with Joseph Heller's Catch-22 to form the truest and darkest of what came from World War II.

Vonnegut began his career as a science fiction writer, and his early novels--Player Piano and The Sirens of Titan--were categorized as such even as they appealed to an audience far beyond the reach of the category. In the 1960s, Vonnegut became closely associated with the Baby Boomer generation, a writer on that side, so to speak.

Now that Vonnegut's work has been studied as a large body of work, it has been more deeply understood and unified. There is a consistency to his satirical insight, humor and anger which makes his work so synergistic. It seems clear that the more of Vonnegut's work you read, the more it resonates and the more you wish to read. Scholars believe that Vonnegut's reputation (like Mark Twain's) will grow steadily through the decades as his work continues to increase in relevance and new connections are formed, new insights made.


Author Kurt Vonnegut is considered by most to be one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. His books Slaughterhouse-Five (named after Vonnegut's World War II POW experience) and Cat's Cradle are considered among his top works. RosettaBooks offers here a complete range of Vonnegut's work, including his first novel (Player Piano, 1952) for readers familiar with Vonnegut's work as well as newcomers.

Editorial Reviews


“A moving fable . . . Vonnegut, sweet cynic and ugly duckling, continues to write gentle swan songs for our uncivil society.”—Playboy 
“The master at his quirky, provocative best.”—Cosmopolitan
“Vonnegut is George Orwell, Dr. Caligari and Flash Gordon compounded into one writer . . . a zany but moral mad scientist.”—Time

About the Author

Kurt Vonnegut was a master of contemporary American literature. His black humor, satiric voice, and incomparable imagination first captured America's attention in The Sirens of Titan in 1959 and established him as "a true artist" with Cat's Cradle in 1963. He was, as Graham Greene declared, "one of the best living American writers.” Mr. Vonnegut passed away in April 2007.

Product Details

  • File Size: 930 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Publisher: RosettaBooks (August 21, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005IQ5H7M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,077 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Deadeye Dick is a novel only Kurt Vonnegut could have written - quirky, strange, thought-provoking, and a little bit depressing. The story of Deadeye Dick and his family is not a happy one. Rudy Waltz acquires his unusual nickname at the age of twelve by accidentally killing a woman in his hometown, but the whole story starts well before Rudy was even born. His father was supposedly a promising artist, or at least his own mother thought so, but he and his painting tutor did little more than travel around getting drunk and carousing with women of ill repute; after the tutor was exposed as a sham, Otto Waltz went to Austria to study in the years before the Great War; his lack of talent forbade him entry to the Academy, and he developed a friendship with another failed artist who later became chancellor of the Third Reich. This association with Hitler and some of his ideas would come back to haunt Otto in the 1940s. Rudy was Otto's second son, and on the day when his father bestowed upon him the key to the gun room, Rudy took a rifle up to the top of the cupola at his family's most unusual residence, fired it randomly, and unknowingly shot a pregnant woman right between the eyes while she was vacuuming - thus did Rudy receive the nickname Deadeye Dick. His father insisted on making a production about how everything was his fault, and life would never be the same again for the dysfunctional Waltz family. They lost everything, and life got little better as Rudy matured. The story of Deadeye Dick and his family goes on to include such events as a decapitation, a death by chimney (it was made of radioactive cement), and the eventual death of everyone in the whole town by way of an accidental neutron bomb explosion. Read more ›
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The superlative Vonnegut scores again August 8, 2006
To my way of thinking Kurt Vonnegut is one of the greatest writers of all time, end of story. I've yet to read anything bad by him -- and even a subpar offering from him is leaps and bounds better than most other books out there. This is great for Vonnegut and the reader, but is most fortunate for Deadeye Dick because while it falls (just barely) into the category of lesser Vonnegut it is still a truly great book and a tour de force of creative writing. In its pages you will meet Rudy Waltz, a pharmacist and so-called neuter who has been hiding away from the world ever since he accidentally shot and killed a pregnant woman at twelve years old and became a double murderer known in town as Deadeye Dick. In typical Vonnegut style Waltz has a fascinating and unique way of looking at the world and telling his story, and is backed up with an endearingly eccentric cast of characters. His outrageous father is one of Vonnegut's best creations: a self-proclaimed artist with no talent or artwork, an utter narcissist and onetime friend of Hitler's who becomes a laughingstock after the outbreak of WWII because he had so ardently supported his friend without actually paying attention to his politics. So why does Deadeye Dick fail to join the pantheon of Vonnegut's greats like Slaughterhouse Five, Mother Night, and Breakfast of Champions? Because those three have a moral urgency to them that Deadeye Dick is just slightly lacking in some key parts. While it is certainly not difficult to get involved in Waltz's saga I couldn't help but wish that he had come to more definitive conclusions in the end. But it does have a killer last line, and I would highly recommend this novel to anyone familiar with Vonnegut or, especially, to anyone who has yet to experience his divine fiction.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slight wacky but hey, we're talking Vonnegut June 21, 2000
Deadeye Dick is the kind of thing that your average person might write after a prolonged lack of sleep when the 'giddies' sets in. It doesn't entirely make sense, and some of the themes are a little wacky, but it is still very entertaining and fun to read. Vonnegut manages to use plenty of his traditionally biting humor throughout the book and deals with neutron bombs, eccentric artists, criminal coverups, and life after Ohio is obliterated. I am already biased because I am a big fan of Vonnegut's style of writing, but I found the book to be consistently interesting and can't wait to get another of his books
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 and 1/2 Stars April 29, 2001
Although not Kurt Vonnegut's best novel, Deadeye Dick is an enlightening, fast-paced, and highly entertaining satrical look at the death of innocence and the randomness of life. Through the plot and the life of the protonagist, Rudy Waltz, we are shown how seemingly random and completely unforseeable events can completely change and/or wreck a person's life. Everything we do, however seemingly trivial, has a consequence. Vonnegut's writing style is as fluid and graceful as ever, with a prose, quick wit, and pace that will keep you reading. His ever-present humor and light touch with weighty subjects is apparent from the very first page. A good read that you will enjoy. If you are new to this author, I would recommend reading something like Cat's Cradle first, but this is a fine novel and recommended for all Vonnegut fans.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Prescription Drugs and Bullets Mix quite well December 7, 2001
By Kevin
After finishing one of Vonnegut's books, I always like to read essays and critical thought writings on the book. As I began to read some on Deadeye Dick, I realized that most people are morons. It doesn't matter what other people thought the book was about, where the symbols are, or how he meant for things inside it to be taken. Vonnegut himself lends his thoughts to this very idea. Look at the Author's notes at the beginning of the book. He gives a list of symbols that he included in the book. Did he do this for a reason? He certainly did. But in my opinion, and if youve been reading this, you realize it doesnt matter, but in my opinion, it doesnt matter what he thinks the symbols are. It matters how you percieved the opinions, and the way i percieved them is not at all how he did. Sure, he wrote the book, but I read it, and a book unread is useless. Life goes on.
If you like Vonnegut, you'll love Deadeye Dick....
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I think its at least in the top 3 works by Vonnegut.
Published 17 days ago by gideon
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Classic Vonnegut, a story that makes you truly question humanity and our own views of the world. Written in a way that is both fluid and understandable
Published 1 month ago by Jordan McVay Voght
4.0 out of 5 stars Underwhelming but Solid Vonnegut
A wise man once said, ‘The key to happiness is low expectations.’

Despite being that wise man, I failed to heed my sage advice and went into this book with fairly lofty... Read more
Published 1 month ago by John Box
5.0 out of 5 stars a joy to read
So well-written and witty, and all seemingly without him even trying. That's just what I love about KV's writing style.
Published 3 months ago by Seth
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the best Vonnegut
Nice Vonnegut but lacks an actual story. Fizzled out and never came together in a compelling way. I am done
Published 3 months ago by Martin J Blomgren
4.0 out of 5 stars My first
This was the first time I finished a Vonnegut book, and it won't be the last. Couldn't finish Galapagos, but couldn't put this one down.
Published 4 months ago by Tabatha Alcina
4.0 out of 5 stars Deadeye Dick is Dead On Fun.
Vonnegut's style of amusing fiction is on point on usual in this simple tale of the life of an introvert from a small town in Ohio.
Published 4 months ago by Jason Bryan
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderer
Normal is only a setting on the dryer and this book captures the craziness of the world around us. It also spawned the name of a band.
Published 4 months ago by Dr. Wilson Trivino
2.0 out of 5 stars Needs Copy Editing!
It is too bad because Kurt Vonnegut is one of the best writers around. However, The Kindle Edition had so many errors and typos, I had to put the down. One or two, I can look past. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ann Winter
3.0 out of 5 stars Just for confirmed Vonnegut fans
Vonnegut's virtual autobiographic style wears out after several books. Is a unique author and an icon in American literature; not every one of his books is a masterpiece. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Dave B
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More About the Author

Kurt Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis in 1922. He studied at the universities of Chicago and Tennessee and later began to write short stories for magazines. His first novel, Player Piano, was published in 1951 and since then he has written many novels, among them: The Sirens of Titan (1959), Mother Night (1961), Cat's Cradle (1963), God Bless You Mr Rosewater (1964), Welcome to the Monkey House; a collection of short stories (1968), Breakfast of Champions (1973), Slapstick, or Lonesome No More (1976), Jailbird (1979), Deadeye Dick (1982), Galapagos (1985), Bluebeard (1988) and Hocus Pocus (1990). During the Second World War he was held prisoner in Germany and was present at the bombing of Dresden, an experience which provided the setting for his most famous work to date, Slaughterhouse Five (1969). He has also published a volume of autobiography entitled Palm Sunday (1981) and a collection of essays and speeches, Fates Worse Than Death (1991).

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