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Kurt Vonnegut: Novels & Stories 1950-1962: Player Piano / The Sirens of Titan / Mother Night / Stories (Library of America) Hardcover – April 26, 2012


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Kurt Vonnegut: Novels & Stories 1950-1962: Player Piano / The Sirens of Titan / Mother Night / Stories (Library of America) + Kurt Vonnegut: Novels & Stories 1963-1973: Cat's Cradle / God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater / Slaughterhouse-Five / Breakfast of Champions / Stories (Library of America, No. 216) + Kurt Vonnegut: Novels 1976–1985 (Library of America)
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Product Details

  • Series: Library of America (Book 226)
  • Hardcover: 864 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America; 1St Edition edition (April 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598531506
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598531503
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Sidney Offit, editor, has written novels, books for young readers, and memoirs including, most recently, Friends, Writers, and Other Countrymen. He was senior editor of Intellectual Digest, book editor of Politics Today, and contributing editor of Baseball Magazine. He wrote the foreword to Look at the Birdie, a collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s unpublishedshort fiction.

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

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I highly recommend this and the other collection to anybody who loves Vonnegut.
Mark vonSchlegell
This is the only book in which Vonnegut says he is sure of his moral: "We are what we pretend to be so we must be careful what we pretend to be."
The Ginger Man
I got into a bind during my sophomore year, reading his books in lieu of my assignments.
Dr. John T. Webb

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By The Ginger Man VINE VOICE on April 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The first Library of America volume of Vonnegut's work contains his best known novels written between 1963 and 1973. The latest LOA entry includes the author's first 3 novels, among them, Sirens of Titan, my introduction to the Vonnegut canon and my personal favorite.

His first novel was written in 1952. Player Piano is a dystopian tale of life in Ilium, New York, where the triumph of technology has led to a uniform life of dreariness and boredom. in his foreword, Vonnegut, says that the novel is "mostly about managers and engineers." Dr Paul Proteus is the manager of Ilium Works, drawing upon upon Vonnegut's early experience at General Electric. Proteus helps lead an unsuccessful revolution against this brave, new world. Hopeful that men can learn to live without any machines, he watches as his followers become sidetracked repairing a soft drink machine.

Sirens of Titan is the first novel written in the irreverent and satirical style that characterizes Vonnegut's novels up through Breakfast of Champions. In this book, he first introduces the planet Tralfamadore, to which Billy Pilgrim will ultimately be exiled in Slaughterhouse 5. Sirens is an extended lesson in man's largely unimportant place in the universe. Many of man's greatest accomplishments, from Stonehenge to the Palace of the League of Nations, were coded messages to a native of Tralfamadore who is stuck on the moon awaiting a replacement part for his spaceship. The Great Wall of China is built to tell Old Salo "Be patient. We haven't forgotten about you." So it goes.

Mother Night approaches similar themes of personal responsibility using a more serious setting. Howard Campbell stays in Germany when his parents escape.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mark vonSchlegell on May 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In a review for the previous LOA collection of Vonnegut's work, I groused about them releasing his mid-career material first. I felt, and still feel, that THIS collection should've come out first. Why? Because you can see how Vonnegut developed as a writer. Vonnegut spent years toiling away in what is referred to as the "sci-fi ghetto" before hitting it big with "Slaughterhouse Five." You can see why because, with the exception of "Mother Night," all the novels and stories in this collection are science fiction in nature. Not that it's bad science fiction, but some folks aren't hip to that genre and might be turned off by that. To each his own. I feel that if you look past the science fiction aspects of these stories, you will find some truly perceptive commentary by the man buried within.

Take the first novel "Player Piano" as an example. On the surface, it reads like a story of man trying to rebel against the machines that rule his life. Look deeper and you'll find that it is a commentary about man trying to regain his sense of worth and dignity in a society that no longer has a place for that sort of thing. It's about man being consigned to the scrap heap of menial labor for the rest of his life because machines have determined, as the result of being IQ tested as a youngster, that is where you belong. Or because machines can do your job more effectively than you can with technology being so advanced. Yet you can't go through advanced training to upgrade your skills to keep up with technology. No second chances. No attepts to reform. No other options whatsoever. It also skewers the importance of corporate hierarchy as well. Change some of the references regarding the technology of the time and it almost feels like a commentary on what is happening in our society today.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By David C. Smith on April 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Here are the contents of The Library of America's edition of Vonnegut's first three novels:

PLAYER PIANO

THE SIRENS OF TITAN

MOTHER NIGHT

STORIES
Report on the Barnhouse Effect
EPICAC
Unready to Wear
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow
Harrison Bergeron
2BR02B

APPENDIX
Science Fiction (1965 essay in The New York Times Book Review)
Introduction to "Bagombo Snuff Box," the uncollected short fiction of Kurt Vonnegut
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Timothy P. Stallcup on January 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a terrific introduction to the early work of Kurt Vonnegut, including his first three published novels, Player Piano, the Sirens of Titan, and Mother Night, and a miscellany of short stories and other writings. I was especially interested in the novels. I do not think they are Vonnegut's best work, but they all are worth reading and give a fascinating insight into Vonnegut's development as a writer as he tried to figure out just what kind of writer he was and how to use his knowledge of science, talent for science fiction, penchant for social criticism and commentary, and ironic sense of humor to craft something that played to his interests and strengths. For example, Player Piano (one of my favorites) is premised on science fiction: a future America after we "won" the great future war by consigning control of society and the military to engineers, administrators and machines. (Note. this may give away a part of the plot, but I don't think it will spoil anything for a reader who sticks with the book for more than a few pages.) This transformation has turned society into one that categorizes everyone and everything. If a citizen "tests' above a certain level, he is recognized as a member of the elite and treated accordingly (better money, social standing and a meaningful--more or less--job). If not in the elite, well, it is either the army or a kind of expansive social service corps that sounds a lot like a dumbed down version of the WPA--fixing roads, picking up trash, etc. In fact, society is so machine oriented that every job conceivably done better by a machine is--the elite constantly design and refine machines that take away most of the traditional work of the non-engineers and administrators (bartending excepted), and frequently design themselves out of work, as well.Read more ›
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