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Kurt Vonnegut: The Last Interview: And Other Conversations (The Last Interview Series) Paperback – December 16, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Like Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln, even when he’s funny, he’s depressed. . . . The way he goes about his business has helped most 
of us to go on living, if only to find out what happens next.”

—John Leonard, The Nation 

“He is a satirist with a heart, a moralist with a whoopee cushion, 
a cynic who wants to believe.”
—Jay McInerney 

“Vonnegut is our strongest writer . . . the most stubbornly imaginative.”

—John Irving

About the Author

Kurt Vonnegut's 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” (The New York Times) with Cat’s Cradle in 1963. He was, as Graham Greene declared, “one of the best living American writers.” Vonnegut died April 11, 2007.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Last Interview Series
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House (December 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612190901
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612190907
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #657,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By TChris TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
Kurt Vonnegut's last interview was fairly short, not nearly long enough to fill a book. It is joined in this volume with five other interviews that span thirty years. Not surprisingly, this leads to some redundancy; Vonnegut liked to tell the same stories and interviewers tended to ask the same questions (who wouldn't, after all, want to ask Vonnegut about the firebombing of Dresden?). Vonnegut discusses his family in nearly every interview; at least four times we hear that his brother patented the process for making rain with silver iodide. On the other hand, we hear almost nothing about the bulk of his fiction, an omission I found disappointing.

The first interview is actually a compilation of four separate interviews that were cobbled together by Vonnegut himself and published in The Paris Review in 1977. Vonnegut talks about his service in World War II, his imprisonment by the Germans in Dresden, and, in general terms, his writing. My favorite quotation from that interview (responding to critics who considered him "barbarous" because he studied chemistry and anthropology rather than classic literature): "I think it can be tremendously refreshing if a creator of literature has something on his mind other than the history of literature so far."

The second interview was published in The Nation in 1980. It focuses on the firebombing of Dresden (the subject of Slaughterhouse-Five) and on nuclear weapons (featured in Cat's Cradle). Vonnegut's most interesting thought concerns his belief that most people lack enthusiasm for life.
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Format: Paperback
Six interviews with Vonnegut, in chronological order. The last interview is rather quick, at around three pages. The interviews touch on his views of other writers, education, war, politics, religion, and his take on humanity.

The interviews were full of Vonnegut's wit, and very amusing to read. Generally I find author interviews disappointing as their works tend to greatly outshine some random Q&A sessions. Happily, this was not the case here, and instead the interviews read more like little raw bits of Vonnegut. My favorite interview was a Playboy one also with Joseph Heller, in which their conversation covers many topics and drops many names. With a bit of time between the rereadings, I'd say the interviews are indeed rereadable. I found that the interviews deepened my appreciation for Vonnegut, and I'll have to go read some now. As lovely as the interviews were, they tended to be rather repetitive in content and questioning. Questioning on most of his work, besides Slaughterhouse Five, would have been nice.

If you enjoy Vonnegut, you'll enjoy his interviews.

I received an electronic copy from the publisher, Melville House, via NetGalley.
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Format: Paperback
Most people know that the curmudgeonly fatalistic Kurt Vonnegut was one of the most popular fiction writers of the 20th century. Many may not know that he also gave unforgettable interviews. Often these interviews borrowed from his essays, speeches and novels, but they nearly always came across with the same voice, cuttingly sardonic yet genuinely concerned about the strange race of beings he found himself thrust into.

Sadly, Vonnegut passed away in 2007. Though he himself may not have added "sadly," as this somewhat morbidly titled collection, "The Last Interview," reveals. It spans some thirty years of time and by the 2007 interviews Vonnegut seems almost bitter about still counting himself amongst the living, saying that he's "embarrassed to have lived this long." Though, as anyone who has heard enough of his speeches and interviews knows, he never seemed to mind delving right into macabre topics such as suicide, death and the fate of the human race. As such, this collection ends on a rather sad note.

The first interview dates back to 1977 and reads almost like something out of "Welcome to the Monkey House." By the end we discover a surprise interviewer who reveals himself "Breakfast of Champions" style. This interview covers a lot of usual Vonnegut ground: World War II, "Slaughterhouse Five," Vonnegut's youth, writing as trade, science, how lousy "Slapstick" was, the (least) funniest jokes ever created, and numerous other tidbits. It also happens to contain one of his most harrowing and unforgettable descriptions of his time at Dresden, which he also calls "the fastest killing of large numbers of people - one hundred and thirty-five thousand people in a matter of hours.
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I'm a huge Vonnegut fan, so I very much enjoyed this book. I don't think it is a good introductory book if you don't already know his work. The fact that it includes some of his lasts words is what makes it great for me. All his other novels and short stories blow this out of the water...as far as entertainment goes. I never want to put a Vonnegut book down, but this one got a little rest in between reads.
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