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A collection of reminiscences that illuminate the career and private life of the iconic author of 'Slaughterhouse-Five'
Kurt Vonnegut (1922–2007), who began his writing career working for popular magazines, held both literary aspirations and an attraction to genre fiction. His conspicuous refusal to respect literary boundaries was part of what made him a countercultural icon in the 1960s and 1970s. Vonnegut’s personal life was marked in large part by public success and private turmoil. Two turbulent marriages, his sudden adoption of his late sister’s four children (and the equally sudden removal of one of those children), and a mid-eighties suicide attempt all signaled the extent of Vonnegut’s inner troubles. Yet, he was a generous friend to many, maintaining close correspondences throughout his life.
Kurt Vonnegut Remembered gathers reminiscences—by those who knew him intimately, and from those met him only once—that span Vonnegut’s entire life. Among the anecdotes in this collection are remembrances from his immediate family, reflections from his comrades in World War II, and tributes from writers he worked with in Iowa City and from those who knew him when he was young. Editor Jim O’Loughlin offers biographical notes on Vonnegut’s relationship with each of these figures.
Since Vonnegut’s death, much has been written on his life and work, but this new volume offers a more generous view of his life, particularly his last years. In O’Loughlin’s introduction to the volume, he argues that we can locate and understand Vonnegut’s best self through his public persona, and that in his performance as the kind and humane figure that many of the speakers here knew him as, Vonnegut became a better person than he ever felt himself to be.
About the Author
Jim O’Loughlin is associate professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa. He is the coauthor of Daily Life in the Industrial United States, 1870–1900.
"O’Loughlin makes an inspired move: he weaves together multiple perspectives of Kurt at various points in his life, reaching back as far as birthday messages delivered by his childhood friends up to more recent accounts written specifically for this volume. Taken together, what emerges is a more sufficiently complicated and well-rounded depiction than the one Shields presents. Yet it makes no denial that Vonnegut, a man who by his own admission was a dark, “monopolar depressive,” could be temperamental (see Timequake)."—North American Review
"Kurt Vonnegut Remembered an anthology of reminiscences about American author Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007), who is best known for his best-selling, dark satire novel Slaughterhouse Five. These writings and insights are from a wide range of individuals people, from those who knew Vonnegut intimately to those who met him only once, and different essays shine a light on the many different phases of Vonnegut's life [ . . . ] Notes and an index round out this "must-read" for connoisseurs of Vonnegut's classic works, highly recommended especially for public and college library Literary Studies collections. —Wisconsin Bookwatch
“Given Vonnegut's enduring popularity, Kurt Vonnegut Remembered offers a positive, necessary contribution to the field of writings about this enigmatic author.” —D. Quentin Miller, author of Understanding John Edgar Wideman, The Routledge Introduction to African American Literature, and A Criminal Power: James Baldwin and the Law
“This is an impressive biographical collage, containing a wide variety of excerpts from dozens of sources. O’Loughlin has artfully culled through many different publications to find firsthand memories of Vonnegut by those who knew him . . . . Kurt Vonnegut Remembered is a nice tribute, and therefore a welcome contribution to Vonnegut Studies and fandom.” —Resources for American Literary Study
“In this welcomed assemblage of encounters with Vonnegut by those who knew him best, Kurt Vonnegut Remembered celebrates the authenticity of the author's life and work as a whole, demonstrating the efficacy of Vonnegut’s primary moral that we are who we pretend to be.” —Lawrence R. Broer, author of Vonnegut and Hemingway: Writers at War and Sanity Plea: Schizophrenia in the Novels of Kurt Vonnegut