Most helpful critical review
30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2002
It's hard to call this book anything but average, especially for Kurt Vonnegut. In fact, when it comes right down to it, it's even hard to call this a book. This is a collection of speeches and assorted writings that have been compiled and thrown together between 2 covers. There is some new material (mainly commentary) intermingled among these speeches and essays. That commentary is probably the most entertaining aspect of the whole book.
All in all this rates as an average of all the material included, and that average is no more or less than, well, thoroughly average. 3 stars. By giving it 3 stars I think it says the book is worth reading. But it's clearly not worth getting too excited about. No, this is not one of Vonnegut's greatest works. But it is interesting at spots.
In this book Vonnegut touches on all sorts of things, but as many seasoned KV readers will know, it would not be a vintage Vonnegut without mentioning Dresden, Indianapolis, and his son Mark's insanity. All 3 make numerous appearances in the book. It could probably be argued that the name of this book should be exactly that: Dresden, Indianapolis, and Mark's Insanity.
But it's not. It's called Palm Sunday for whatever reason. In it, he rates all of his works to date and I think he does a fair job doing so. For this one, he gives himself a C+, which is fair enough. He also said it took 6 years. If time is an indicator, I'll give him an A for effort.
Those interested in getting to know Vonnegut from the start should try The Sirens of Titan, Cat's Cradle, or Slaughterhouse-5. Those 3 are vintage Vonnegut and worth every good word ever expressed about them. Those who have read all of his fiction works and are looking to peer even deeper into his writings should indeed read this. But do so with the grain of knowledge that this is not his best collection of words.
As much as I have not praised this book it is still worth the read. But I try to paint a fair picture of who should read it. In a nutshell, people who have read many other Vonnegut works should read this one to complete the list of books he has written. Those new to Vonnegut should move on to something more well-crafted and ingenious.
My conclusion? Worth the read, but after you've done some other reading first.