And So it Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life
The first authoritative biography of Kurt Vonnegut Jr., a writer who changed the conversation of American literature
In 2006, Charles Shields reached out to Kurt Vonnegut in a letter, asking for his endorsement for a planned biography. The first response was no ("A most respectful demurring by me for the excellent writer Charles J. Shields, who offered to be my biographer"...more
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Most of Vonnegut's works have had some degree of autobiographical content in them, and Shields' account of Vonnegut's life and relationships is nothing new. But what Shields does exceptionally well is talk about it objectively, and the impact those events had on Vonnegut himself, and how that impacted his novels and...more
The depth and breadth of research that went into this is staggering. I read mo...more
I’ve been a massive Kurt Vonnegut fan for the better part of my life. I was never assigned to read him in high school, instead, I picked up a copy of God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater on my own in my freshman year of college and instantly craved more. I think my favorite part of any Vonnegut story is how he writes the story: the odd breaks, th...more
Unfortunately for Vonnegut fans, they will not like everything they read. His life is not about kindness, wealth distribution or any other topic of his novels. He seems to be barely getting through the day. Vonnegut's treatment of his first wife Jane was so appalling that you almost ap...more
I found nothing to admire in his character as portrayed here, and this account reminded me of just how selfish and destructive the males of the 1950s and '60s were, demanding that their wives give up everything for them, as Vonnegut's did, while feeling justified in pursuing adulterous affa...more
I read a lot more of Vonnegut in high school and then, like many of his readers, moved on. So when I picked up this biograph...more
Back when Vonnegut was still married (and not knowing much about him,) I ha...more
I was fortunate enough to attend one of Vonnegut’s speaking engagements in Sacramento in the late 1990s, but was confused by his presentation. He tended to ramble on from subject to subject, but managed to extract as much humor as possible from each scenario. His life – as depicted in this biography – seemed to be much the same as his talk. Like most people, I “discovered” Vonnegut when “Slaughterhouse 5” was released, and...more
The face that peers out at you from the cover is immeasurably sad. It’s the face of a man in middle age weighed down by lifetimes of tragedy. The man — one of the most remarkable novelists of the 20th century — is Kurt Vonnegut, known throughout much of his adult life as Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
In And So It Goes, Charles J. Shields plumbs the depths of Vonnegut’s sadness. He began work shortly before Vonnegut’s death in 2006 and conducted lengthy inter...more
The major problem in this book though is that Shields appears to hate Kurt Vonnegut. He seems like a man who h...more
A fascinating examination of Vonnegut, which is both a quick read and enjoyable. While Vonnegut comes off as far less likable in this biography than many of his fans likely imagined, that also appears to be how he was in reality. A must-read for any fans of Vonnegut or anyone who wants to learn more about one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century.
I have two major issues with biography. First, Vonnegut's World War II ye...more
I should probably start this off by saying that I haven't read much Vonnegut (yet). I've read Slaughterhouse-Five (twice; once in high school, and the other time not too long ago) and Breakfast of Champions (at my boyfriends insistence, for which I'm glad) and several of his short stories, and I've enjoyed them all, but I've got such a huge to read list (who doesn't?) and its taking me time to get around to all of his works. I knew very little...more
I'll preface what might seem a harsh review by saying straight-off that this is a well-written and engrossing book and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in Kurt Vonnegut's life. I would add "...and work" but I think that would be going too far: a real weakness of this biography is a severe lack of appreciation for Vonnegut's actual writing.
It's clear to anyone who reads Vonnegut's books - and I have read all of them at least once - that he nev...more
Some have written that this book spoiled their appetite for a Vonneguttian feast as the image shown here is of a spoiled and frankly stupid young man who matures into a spoiled and grumpy old codger. Vonnegut dissed all those who pulled him to success despite himself and continued to make astoundingly bad choices right up to the end. H...more
He grew up in the Midwest and taught in a rural school in central Illinois for several years. He has been a reporter for public radio, a journali...more