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Showing 1-10 of 51 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 63 reviews
on November 15, 2012
It's rare that a book's introduction makes me speak out loud while reading. Don't get me wrong. I wasn't reading aloud. I just found myself saying "Wow" and "Huh!" and "I didn't know that!" out loud, to myself, as I read this beautiful book. As an artist, I found the cover photo and art and even the fonts of the chapter headings both stunning and a fond visit back to the Seventies. But as a reader, and a passionate re-reader of writers I love, I was intrigued and fascinated by the introduction- written with passionate restraint by Dan Wakefield.

Honestly? I rarely read more than one page of book introductions, as they usually reveal more about the writer of the Introduction than the person the Introducer is introducing. But this is happily not the case with Dan Wakefield. I love Wakefield's books, especially "Expect A Miracle" and "Spiritually Incorrect." Actually, now that I think about it, I probably only began to read this Introduction because it was written by Dan Wakefield! His clear, concise and empathetic prose informed me deeply about Kurt Vonnegut and his influences, his family and his artistic struggles to have his iconic and iconoclastic voice published and read.

In fact, a unique and welcome addition to this book is the introduction of each era of letters- which smartly and helpfully places us in the context of Vonnegut's life when he wrote the letters and to whom he was writing. It's such a simple technique but begs the question of why this isn't done more with published letters of notable people... and in this book the chapter introductions serve to create more comprehension of Vonnegut's life and how he dealt with family, friends, associates, success and disappointment. Not only did I feel I was learning so much more about Vonnegut, in almost a biographical way, but this book served to make me want to hunt down a biography of Vonnegut-- but only if it's as well written as this one.

The mark of a good book is one that inspires me to read more. Kurt Vonnegut's Letters not only makes me want to read more Vonnegut but it also makes me want to go back and re-read my treasured Dan Wakefield books.

Great winter read. Stay inside, get cozy on a couch under a blanket and disappear into the mind of a great man as commemorated by another great man.
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VINE VOICEon December 9, 2012
Perhaps I am wearing rose colored glasses when I read this, with KV being my favorite author, but this book will show you how the man thought throughout the decades in a way that no biographer can ever capture. His letters flourish with wit, humor, insecurity, grandiose notions, and indignation. He outlines his struggles to become a literary giant, while not understanding how he achieved this title.

You actually can picture him at the typewriter and share in the "mood of the moment" of his thoughts, written to a wide variety of people through the 60 years that this testaments span.

As a true fan of his literature, you won't be sorry for this purchase as you revisit books long past, and my guess is that after reading this you will be dusting off Breakfast of Champions and Cat's Cradle to fully understand what you have just enjoyed reading.

Finally you will receive a sense of American history and where the world was, is and is perhaps heading towards. Just loved it and snorted this book up like a cocaine addict.

5 stars.
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on November 2, 2014
I'm a big Vonnegut fun and even visited the KV Library in Indianapolis so anything he writes is going to be a joy for me. Some of his letters are simply wonderful where he writes about how any work of art is one half of the conversation (what the artist said) and the other half is what the observer says. Some letters are stinging and others witty. There are also a few others that you might not have the right amount of background to fully appreciate (sort of like the old joke...."you had to be there"). He professed no love for his former son-in-law, Geraldo Rivera and the struggles of keeping a marriage together and with wanting to be closer to his children. He writes to people about book banning and you get more insight into what he was thinking at the time of some of his work. It is a relatively quick read and I'd recommend it to fans of KV.
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on June 30, 2013
This collection of correspondence really has it all: The unique, seemingly effortless, voice; the wry humor; and the humanistic outlook that is the hallmark of all Vonnegut's work. It is almost as good as reading one of his novels, this one about the trials , successes, heartaches and petty complaints that make up the long and complicated life of a novelist. What is most surprising here is to read about how difficult the writing was for him when to us, the avid reader, his prose has always seemed to flow so easily.
The only complaint I really have here is not about content, but about price. 18 bucks for an ebook? It seems excessive, and made me consider purchasing the hardcover. If shelfspace was not a factor in my life...
Regardless, this is a must read for Vonnegut fans. If you can stomach the price, buy it right away.
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on December 5, 2012
Have been a Vonnegut fan since *Slaughterhouse 5* and have read most of his fiction, and some of the non-fiction (*Timequake*). These letters are a cut above most of what he was publishing in those last 20 years, and they explain what was going on that made those later books so disappointing, to me anyway. The letters are especially well edited by a friend from his hometown, Indianapolis. Not a "getting even" book. More a "getting inside" the life of one of the most authentic writers of our time.
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on February 1, 2014
This is the real Kurt Vonnegut - from 'the horse's mouth' as it were, or as he would have added - "Well one end of the animal or the other anyway!" Then he'd of exploded into his trademark sheet-tearing Pall Malls inflicted wet laugh, the brand he smoked furiously all his life and that a classmate eponymously named 'Vonneguts' at Iowa.

On the fly leaf of the book, KV replies to a relative who wrote telling him he thought KV was one of 'America's literary giants'.

"I am an American fad on an order only slightly higher than the hula hoop," he wrote back. This was in the '80's probably, when the critics were not being very kind to his work.

It's true that KV was at just the right place and at just the right time in the anti-war cultural context of the '60's/early '70's and that helped account for the runaway best seller success of 'Slaughterhouse Five'.

Like a fine song on the the 'oldies' station in the car, many of the boomer generation can listen to his voice without tiring, like listening to an old friend who has chatting with us from the grave.

This no matter no matter what the pecksniffery of English major lit crit twits said about his work in the '80's, trying to dismiss him as '...a 'graphic novelist' who's written a series of what amounts to Marvel Comics'.

Well, how about we tell the twits that there are a lot of us 'English majors' out there that happen to like Marvel Comics and Vonnegut and Terry Southern and Bill Fox and Charles Portis too.

Anyway, I'm reminded of the Paul Simon lyric: "It's every generation throws a hero up the pop charts; Medicine is magical and magical is art."

KV was a magical artist and still is. He will always be one of my generations 'up the pop charts' heroes and more, not just because he was our friend and mentor at Iowa, but because starting with after 'Breakfast' he began first person personal conversations with us so every one felt like they knew and liked him.

He was very human and a vulnerable man too, as we see from these letters, like all writers. In these letters we see that after the sudden success of 'Five' he is struck down by '...the black and shattered' years' that followed, including a suicide attempt.

Stabilized some in the '80's, KV writes that he didn't like the 'Requiem Mass' he'd heard sung at a friend's funeral because when it was translated Latin into English he thought the monks had - 'not only got it all wrong - but they'd done it badly too'. So he wrote his own Requiem Mass in English (then had it translated into Latin) and it was performed by a large choral at a Unitarian Church in Albany, New York.

BTW the Unitarian Church was the only church he ever considered joining he wrote - '...because they don't believe in much of anything.' Pure Vonnegut.

So think of the letters in this book as the lyrics of an autobiographical Requiem Mass, written in English by the 'horse's mouth' as he'd say, more or less.

And BTW, I only gave 'Kurt Vonnegut Letters' five stars ... because Amazon has not seen fit to offer a sixth! dc
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on August 4, 2013
A look into the soul and character of a literary genius distilled in each personal written communication to those who touched or were part of his life's journey. For those who have only read "Slaughter House 5" this is an important next read to reveal the breadth of his creativity. The editor's diligence to put the letters together not only chronologically but connected in a manner better than a biography of his life or an introduction to his novels, plays, and drawings. I am now more interested in finishing the remaining works based on a different perspective as to what state of mind he found himself during the period he was writing.
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on August 8, 2015
Wow, this book was not what I expected it to be. As a collection of letters, it was very well put together as the biography Vonnegut never wrote. It's funny, it's beautiful, it's wise and full of wit.
I highly recommend this book to Vonnegut fans, and even to those who are unfamiliar with him.
Thank you Kurt for all you have done and your writing will not be forgotten.
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on August 14, 2016
This book is everything the reviews say: witty, charming, touching, and mundane. Well worth the read. The thread running through it all is his admonition "God damn it, you've got to be kind.”
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on September 23, 2014
I think that diaries or personal correspondence can tell you more about a persons life and thoughts than any autobiography can. Kurt was one of Americas great writers and his work and reputation in the literary world seem to grow with time, like a fine wine. Anyone interested in Kurt, his life and his work this book is a must read.
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