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Jailbird: A Novel Paperback – January 12, 1999
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“[Kurt Vonnegut] has never been more satirically on-target. . . . Nothing is spared.”—People
“Our strongest writer . . . the most stubbornly imaginative.”—John Irving
“A gem . . . a mature, imaginative novel—possibly the best he has written . . . Jailbird is a guided tour de force of America. Take it!”—Playboy
“A profoundly humane comedy . . . Jailbird definitely mounts up on angelic wings—in its speed, in its sparkle, and in its high-flying intent.”—Chicago Tribune Book World
“Joyously inventive . . . gleams with the loony magic Vonnegut alone can achieve.”—Cosmopolitan
“Vonnegut is our great apocalyptic writer, the closest thing we’ve had to a prophet since . . . Lenny Bruce.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“Vonnegut at his impressive best. . . . His imaginative leaps alone . . . are worth the price of admission. . . . His far-reaching metaphysical and cultural concerns . . . are ultimately serious and worth our contemplation.”—The Washington Post
“Is it entertaining? Every page of it. . . . Easily his best work of fictions since Slaughterhouse-Five.”—New York Daily News
“Life, in Vonnegut’s eyes, is as chaotic as ever . . . but Jailbird emanates serene control.”—The Atlantic Monthly
“At his best . . . Vonnegut in very good form, tart, wry, often very funny.”—New York Post
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.” Mr. Vonnegut passed away in April 2007.
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While reading Jailbird I was reminded of Bluebeard, which is another one of my favorites. Both are about aging men who have, from their perspectives, never done anything original. Of course, these are common themes in Vonnegut novels, so it should come as no surprise. But I was quite pleased to find this gem that rivals the humanity, the tenderness, the vulnerability of Bluebeard. And, of course, I got more than a few chuckles along the way as I found a proverbial whoopee cushion placed cleverly on my chair. And, *mild spoiler alert* there are a few charmingly cheap jokes tastefully placed within the story. My favorite, perhaps, "What's the difference between an enzyme and a hormone? You can't hear an enzyme."
Like many Vonnegut novels, this one weaves in bits of history with fiction, but Jailbird perhaps does it best. It was utterly seamless. So well done, in fact, that I found myself afterward reading historical accounts to figure out what was fiction and what was not.
Although Vonnegut generally follows his own rules and tells the reader everything up front, there are, nonetheless, a few lovely surprises to be found during the reading of this book. I found it heartbreaking in the most wonderful way.
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Vonnegut lets an observer of a strike-related massacre say these words with a stammer.Read more