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Fates Worse Than Death: An Autobiographical Collage Kindle Edition

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Length: 240 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

These 21 essays, combining personal recollections and political reiterations, lack a unifying theme; they are likely to disappoint even Vonnegut fans.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From 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.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 927 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: RosettaBooks (August 22, 2011)
  • Publication Date: August 22, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005IQ5JC0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,399 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Bill R. Moore on July 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
Here in this book we get Vonnegut's cynical but honest commentary on everything from talk show hosts to his own experiences with suicidal depression. Some of the chapter's are extremely pessimistic in their outlook, but hit home so well that they can leave you feeling quite down about the human race and it's apparent race headlong towards suicide. However, Kurt's dark sense of humor is here as always and even more prevalent than usual. You'll be laughing out loud at things that are really anything but funny. But that is the genius of Vonnegut, he can have you laughing and wryly amused while reading, but after done, his greater impressions stick in your head and leave you provoking thought. He is truly a gifted writer. Although not as fast-paced as his fiction, this book is a fine and interesting read. Most notable to many readers, surely, will be his perceptions and thoughts on his experiences in World War II and the effect it has since had on him. His religious observations are interestings as well, and funny, to wit: "In order not to appear a spiritual quadripelgic to those trying to get a hold on me, I sometimes say that I am a Unitarian Universalits (I breathe.)" This is certainly a must-read for any Vonnegut fan, but you will want to have devoured a significant amount of his fiction and know a little bit about the man before tackling it.
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70 of 78 people found the following review helpful By L. Dann on May 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
To borrow a verb from Hawthorne, I was "purposed" here. Having eaten the garbage of the day's media reports, I picked up this book for the "cleansing" redux. Some bittersweet sorbet it was- here are some of the things that made me laugh.
Charleton Heston played Jesus with shaved armpits.
To describe our nation, he quotes Amos an' Andy, "De mess we's in"
Re: Thomas Jefferson's owning slaves- "It was as though he had an infected growth on the tip of his nose the size of a walnut and everyone thought that was OK."
When KV's father was dying he apologized for calling him 'Bozo.' Then about five minutes later he called him Bozo again.
Here are things that made my heart stop:
The average age of an American to die in Vietnam was 20. (My own son had just joined- against my wishes- the military, at 20.)
If Western Civilization were a person, we would be directing him to War Preparers Anonymous.
That's the kind of stuff you'll read in essays that are distressing and comforting and hilarious- if you know Vonnegut, you know what I'm saying. Personally, I like a bit more fiction, but as I said, I was purposed here, and I think you may be too.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Steven J. Drahozal on July 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
These essays give us a rare look in to the mind of a genius. He expounds on subjects ranging from mental illness, family relationships, death and war. Sounds depressing, but an optimism shows through. Vonnegut masterfully points out the adsurdity around us and shines the light of sanity on it. The essays are as relevant and mind opening today as they were when he wrote them over a decade ago. Although this is not the Veonnegut work I would recommend to someone unfamiliar with his work, anyone will benefit from reading it.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robert Zverina on January 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
Vonnegut's take on the 1980's applies tenfold to the 21st century.

He was very angry. Upset over greed and injustice.

So much so he tried at one time to kill himself, as he relates in this most candid retrospective of the decade where greed became acceptable and even virtuous in Reagan's America. (As Vonnegut reveals, both he and Reagan were at times PR men for General Electric. Vonnegut quit shilling for corporations, Reagan continued from his seat in the Oval Office.)

This is Vonnegut at his angriest and most straightforward. He does not mince words as he lambastes Reagan, Bush, and their hyperprivileged ilk. (Later, in 2006 he famously said, "The only difference between [G.W.] Bush and Hitler is Hitler was elected." Zing!)

But these fits of justified pique are tempered with rapturous meditations on love, friendship, empathy, and the secular sanctity of life and art.

When Vonnegut died he was working on a novel titled If God Were Alive Today. If Vonnegut were alive today I wonder what he would say. (The lead actors have changed but the play remains the same.)

Who will take his place as a voice of sanity, compassion, and outrage in American letters? I suspect someone or ones are out there but can't find a platform to reach a critical mass despite the illusory promises of the internet.

I suppose Vonnegut never reached a critical mass, either. Or did he? One of the highlights of this book is the reprint of a speech given to the graduating class of U. of Rhode Island in 1990, where he posits that American liberty may have been *conceived* in 1776 but it has yet to be born--and needs people like you and me to be its midwives.

The more people who read this book, the better. Perhaps it's not too late.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 31, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a great book for anyone who likes Kurt Vonnegut. If you enjoyed Slaughterhouse Five, you will enjoy hearing him recount stories about his experience in WWII, and also others. The thing that I love about Kurt Vonnegut is his ability to make you laugh on the surface, but hours after you have read his work, you think about the more serious issues raised. There are some parts of this book that are somewhat slow, but if you stay the course you will enjoy this one.
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