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The Vonnegut Chronicles: Interviews and Essays (Contributions to the Study of World Literature)

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The Vonnegut Chronicles: Interviews and Essays (Contributions to the Study of World Literature) [Hardcover]

Marc Leeds , Peter Reed
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 30, 1996 0313297193 978-0313297199

Since 1950, when his short stories first appeared, Kurt Vonnegut has published almost 50 short stories, 13 novels, two plays, and a teleplay. He has remained one of the shrewdest commentators―and often harshest critics―of American society, challenging the complacency of the Eisenhower years, watching the Kennedy's with admiration, and disliking Nixon. He has remained one of the most important chroniclers of American life, his message often foreboding though rarely gloomy. Yet he occupies an ambiguous place in American letters. The 14 essays in this collection seek to chronicle Vonnegut's career as it moves through changing times.

The volume opens with a chronology of Vonnegut's life and three interviews with him. The essays consider his career, combining interest and readability for the general reader with critical commentary for the more serious scholar. The essays consider Vonnegut's later work or are retrospectives reevaluating aspects of his career. Some discuss individual works, particularly later novels, but most consider the ways Vonnegut pursues a theme or technique, the ways his mind works both in the construction of the novels and in the ideas embodied in them. There is also an Appendix discussing Vonnegut's most recent creative enterprise, graphic art, with 12 illustrations of his most recent art work.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

PETER J. REED, Professor of English and Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota, wrote the first book-length treatment of Vonnegut in 1972, Writers for the 70s:Kurt Vonnegut. His biographical sketches of Vonnegut appear in such standard works as the Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography, the Dictionary of American Literary Biography, Magill's Survey of American Literature, and Postmodern Fiction:A Bio-Bibliographical Guide.

MARC LEEDS has directed computer-based writing programs at East Tennessee State University and Shawnee State University. He is now a freelance writer and author of The Vonnegut Encyclopedia: An Authorized Compendium (Greenwood, 1995).

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I laugh, cried and pondered Vonnegut and understood his character and writing with great appreciation
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5.0 out of 5 stars Vonnegut Literary and Visual Art Illuminated October 13, 2013
The Vonnegut Chronicles maps the author’s career and works as they have moved through different stages and eras (to that point---1996).

Its fourteen essays “celebrate” the joys of reading writings that range from “Player Piano” to “Bluebeard.” Articles are primarily by academics, but are accessible and help reveal complexity and depth. Some pieces deal with individual works while others address a particular theme or approach used by the writer in his creations.

One might think that this book is primarily for those concerned with “analysis.” However, it can also be fascinating and illuminating for the enthusiast and a useful source for addressing particular questions.

For instance, this reviewer has an interest in why/how Vonnegut came to include graphics in several of his novels, and this book helps in developing an explanation (This reviewer happened to meet Vonnegut and purchase a silkscreen of one of his drawings). Several interviews and chapters appear contribute in this regard. Particularly pertinent are the “Conversation with Kurt Vonnegut” where he discusses his responses to critics who contrasted “Slaughterhouse Five” and “Breakfast of Champions” (originally there were poor reviews for the latter, but there has been critical reappraisal of its value since that time). “Dancing with the Muse in Vonnegut’s Later Novels” by Loree Rackstraw and “Bluebeard and the Abstract Expressionists” by Cliff McCauley as well as an Appendix, “The Graphics of Kurt Vonnegut” by Peter Reed (that includes and discusses a number of his drawings) are especially insightful.

Anyway, if you are a Vonegut fan and/or have questions related to his literary and visual arts, “The Vonnegut Chronicles” is for you.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chronicling Genius! February 28, 2001
If there has ever been any question about the legitimacy of Vonnegut's work as literature, The Vonnegut Chronicles dispell all doubt. Unlike other criticisms, the Chronicles is a page turner, and one that you will come back to time and time again...I know I have!
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