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Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage Paperback – May 11, 1999

4.1 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Vonnegut is George Orwell, Dr. Caligari and Flash Gordon compounded into one writer . . . a zany but moral mad scientist.”—Time

“[Kurt Vonnegut] is either the funniest serious writer around or the most serious funny writer.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Vonnegut is at the top of his form, and it is wonderful.”—Newsday

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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback (May 11, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385334265
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385334266
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #301,299 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By owookiee VINE VOICE on January 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
Palm Sunday is exactly what it is advertised - an autobiographical collage. KV tells his life story through bits and pieces of short stories, interviews, and ancestral writings. It gives you insight into his motivations from various points of view. The origins of all the plots of all his novels are revealed through him recounting his life experiences, the people he knew, the things he's seen. I feel as if all his novels I've read were clues in some elaborate murder mystery, and the long sought missing link has suddenly been revealed, and I now understand the butler did it.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An anthology of short memoir essays. A deeply earnest and moving record of the author's search for meaning with the intention of doing the right thing just for the sake of it and in the bleak face of utter disillusionment. I found it profoundly moving, ribald and at times, riotously funny. Recommended reading age: 50+ (Younger readers are perhaps not ready to fully understand the depth of Vonnegut's writing any more than they could fully grasp that of a Rothko canvas.)
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Format: Paperback
"Palm Sunday" is a book that dedicated Vonnegut fans should read, but not the casual reader. I imagine they would not appreciate what Vonnegut is doing here. The book is subtitled an "autobiographical collage", and that is an apt description. It is nonfiction, with the exception of two short humorous creative pieces that Vonnegut throws in. It has hints at the bitterness that would come to swallow up Vonnegut's' later works, but it had not consumed him yet when he wrote "Palm Sunday".
One of the most interesting aspects of the text is when Vonnegut lies about himself. For instance, he states that there were no other women involved in the breakup of his first marriage, and this is patently untrue. I love that aspect of this book, seeing how Vonnegut selects bits of autobiography to make himself look good. It makes him seem so human. He probably needed to believe a lot of good things about himself during the time he wrote this. His last novel had been roundly trashed by critics, and a lot of personal family junk had broken apart all over his head. I think most of us would have cleaned up our past a little if we could have, and Vonnegut's humanity is what has always drawn me to him and his writing.
Any avid reader will enjoy the opening chapter of "Palm Sunday" which deals with the first amendment and censorship. Vonnegut is at his biting and indignant best in this chapter. Chapter four of the text also includes a lovely essay on literary style. It is a profound and simple statement on what makes the best writing, which does not have to be "literature", but just the stuff we scribble in our everyday lives. It is the act of communicating with each other that powers the soul and Vonnegut is eloquent in his defense of it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoy Kurt Vonnegut, I really do....but....most of this could almost be classified as reruns. I have read the same "speech" format in a lot of his books with the same information in that format, speeches that he gave at different schools for graduations, whatever. Am I the only one that feels like he could haver found something else to write about? I do know that it is just a little late now to change anything...I guess that is why I continue to read the reruns!
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