A Year In Books Week 9

Armageddon In Retrospect

I hope you don’t think I’m a cheater cheater pumpkin eater (I do love pumpkin….) with my book choice last week. Because, to be honest, I’ve read it before. I’ll pause for general gasps and tears. Also, it’s not strictly non-fiction, even though it was a non-fiction week. Go ahead and gasp again.

Have you pulled yourselves together? Onward and upward. I chose Kurt Vonnegut’s Armageddon In Retrospect. If you’ve read this blog for a while, I’m pretty sure you know of my deep and undying love of Mr. Vonnegut. This collection of speeches and short stories was published posthumously and has an introduction by Mark Vonnegut, Kurt’s son. I have clung to this book since it was published. Mr. Vonnegut never disappointed me in any of his published writings but there is something about this collection that hits the heart of me. Maybe because I know it will be his last. Maybe because when it seems like nothing makes sense and everything is in limbo, I can read this and find reason and humor and logic again. I felt like an intruder reading the letter Vonnegut sent his family after his release from being a POW in Germany- and yet I was so compelled by it. You can already see some of the brilliance that was to come later. More than that, it was so different from any kind of letter I could imagine writing in that situation- and that comforts me. I don’t know why. The rest of the book is mostly short stories revolving around World War II. They are humorous and haunting and poignant and perfect. Perfect.

Sometimes, I just need Kurt V. in my life. Last week was one of those weeks and I wasn’t disappointed in my choice. He never lets me down- and that’s nothing short of a miracle. Of course, I’m going to tell you to read this. I think you should read everything Mr. Kurt Vonnegut wrote. He reminds me to laugh and he reminds me to think for myself and I think he is the bees knees and the cat’s meow. So there.

Kurt Vonnegut

12 thoughts on “A Year In Books Week 9

  1. Just a note to let you know about a book blog I’ve started with a different twist: “Writing Kurt Vonnegut.” Every Saturday, I post another excerpt from my notebook as Vonnegut’s biographer— profiles of the people I met, the difficulties encountered, and the surprises, such as finding 1,500 letters he thought he had lost forever. It’s a blog written in episodes about being a literary detective.

    “Writing Kurt Vonnegut” is only three weeks old but has already been linked to from GalleyCat, 3 Quarks Daily, the Book Bench, the Rumpus, Identity Theory, Maud Newton, and Litopia. It’s receiving several hundred hits a day.

    Perhaps you’d like to give it a look at http://www.writingkurtvonnegut.com

    All the best,

    Charles J. Shields
    And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut, A Life (Holt, November 2011)

  2. After reading ten Vonnneguts, Wampeters was the first non-fiction I’d read. I enjoyed the essays and interviews giving greater insight into his viewpoints, but felt a bit defeated in the end as you receive a great sense that he sees all his efforts as pointless and unlikely to influence any change.
    I’m hoping Armageddon will give some reason for optimism. Just started Armageddon. The picture of Vonnegut on the back makes me sad.

    1. I know. That picture breaks my heart. I wouldn’t go looking for optimism in Armageddon. Vonnegut definitely sees his efforts as pointless, he even compares them to throwing cream pies- good for a gag but not likely to change anything. But he still throws cream pies, even when he feels they are useless, and that, to me, is cause for hope.

      1. In the intro his son describes him as: An optimist posing as a pessimist, hoping people will take heed.
        I always believed this in his fiction, but his non-fiction is so articulate and rational that it’s hard to believe his pessimistic statements veil any other meaning.
        But you’re right, he did keep throwing again and again and again…

  3. I’ve had this on my shelf for ages and you’ve convinced me to read it next. I loved his non-fiction collection Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons, and hope this is just as good.

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