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And so it goes : Kurt Vonnegut, a life
Charles J. Shields
Adult Nonfiction PS3572.O5 Z855 2011

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Vonnegut initially refused to grant an interview to Shields (author of the bestselling Mockingbird), but then relented, enabling Shields to meet him during the last months of his life. This first authorized biography probes both Vonnegut's creative struggles and family life, detailing his transition from "the bowery of the book world" to counterculture icon. Shields delivers a vivid recreation of Vonnegut's ghastly WWII experiences as a POW during the Dresden firebombing that became the basis for Slaughterhouse-Five; the novel brought him overnight fame when it was serialized in Ramparts magazine and then published in a month when 453 Americans were killed in Vietnam. Tragedies and triumphs are contrasted throughout, along with an adroit literary analysis that highlights obscure or overlooked influences on Vonnegut: Ambrose Bierce, Celine, Robert Coover's metafiction, and Paul Rhymer, who scripted radio's Vic and Sade. With access to more than 1,500 letters, Shields conducted hundreds of interviews to produce this engrossing, definitive biography. It arrives during a year of renewed interest in Vonnegut, such as this year's Library of America's Kurt Vonnegut: Novels & Stories 1963-1973, and Gregory D. Sumner's Unstuck in Time: A Journey Through Kurt Vonnegut's Life and Novels, also due in Nov. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

Shields (Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee) presents a semiauthorized biography: Vonnegut agreed to cooperate but then died within a year, four years before this publication. However, the book demonstrates thorough research, based on interviews, letters, emails, and critical evaluations of Vonnegut's writings, all cited extensively. While many are familiar with some of Vonnegut's novels, fewer know his personal history. Shields takes us from cradle to grave, an interesting journey to say the least, stressing that his role is to look for patterns of behavior. One pattern he frequently notes is the difference between Vonnegut's authorial voice and ideas and the person himself. While Shields is clearly a fan, he does not shy away from discussing the more difficult aspects of Vonnegut's personality or from criticizing the novels. His device of starting the biography right in the midst of things, only to return to the early years, seems a bit forced, but, that aside, he keeps readers engrossed in the unfolding. VERDICT An excellent choice particularly for those who have read Vonnegut and will now understand the sources of the ideas he espouses in his novels and be able to contrast them with the actual person. [See Prepub Alert, 5/9/11.]-Gina Kaiser, Univ. of the Sciences, Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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