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Palm Sunday

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,698 Ratings  ·  178 Reviews
Vonnegut writes with beguiling wit and wisdom about his favorite comedians, country music, a dead friend, and many other facets of his all-too-human journey through life, in a work that resonates with the magic sound of a born storyteller--a self-portrait of an American literary genius.
Hardcover, 316 pages
Published June 18th 1981 by Jonathan Cape (first published 1981)
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Feb 26, 2016 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been reading Kurt Vonnegut since high school, so going on 30 years. Only now, reading Palm Sunday, an autobiographical collection of essays, notes, letters, sketches, stories and interviews, first published in 1981, could I gain a more complete understanding of one of my favorite authors.

I now understand how autobiographical many of his other books are, with themes gleaned from his experiences. A Los Angeles Times book review said of Vonnegut – “He is either the funniest serious writer a
Apr 03, 2009 Oriana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2009
It's a little disingenuous to imply that I've read this, as I only hopped around a bit, but, as if there was any doubt that Vonnegut spitting on a napkin would be deserving of the full five stars, I'm giving it to this book on the strength of one piece alone: the 'self-interview,' which was (apparently) first printed in the Paris Review.

Let's take a minute to examine the brilliance of a self-interview. Oh, wait! We don't have to, because Kurt has gone ahead and examined it for us:

Sentences spok
Jan 06, 2008 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved every word of this book, and I plan to reread it. It isn't really a memoir in the traditional sense of offering an autobio, but some important parts of V's bio do stand out as he talks about the world and what human beings are doing with it. V is irreverent as always, hilariously so, and extremely political, as always, and supremely ethical... and all of this while making me laugh. I really loved the way that he talks about the craft of writing, sort of giving notes as he goes along abou ...more
MJ Nicholls
Jan 15, 2012 MJ Nicholls rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, merkins
The sequel to the bestselling smash Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons contains an unholy amount of Vonnegut’s semi-profound public speeches (semi-profound as a good thing), hewn together with a great deal of amiable rambling and autobiographical detail. For a thorough account of Vonnegut’s impressive lineage—descended from prosperous Germans, no less—and illuminating accounts of his early life (far less torturous than the gloss he gives in some of his prefaces), this is an indispensable collectio ...more
Mar 02, 2008 Frederick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who find reading sustaining.
In 1980, Vonnegut collected various speeches, reviews and letters he'd written and added commentary. The result was the book PALM SUNDAY.
I've always thought Vonnegut was somewhat sloppy, but, reading PALM SUNDAY made it clear to me that Vonnegut's sloppiness is part of a method. He was actually a writer of tremendous rigor.
He even points out that his repetition of the phrase "And so it goes" is his version of Celine's use of ellipses.
PALM SUNDAY is more interesting to me than Vonnegut's novels,
Vania Cherveniashka
Ако очаквате високо интелектуална книга, сбъркали сте човека, тук Вонегът е циничен, груб, а на места и вулгарен – такъв какъвто не го бях виждала и очаквала. Хареса ми, макар и не толкова много колкото очаквах, но след като се отърсих от предварителната си нагласа успях да го видя такъв какъвто е, а той безспорно е изключително колоритен, макар че тук не е толкова забавен и остроумен, тук лекичко повдига завесата, за да ни покаже кой е истинският Вонегът, или и този път ни пързаля и ни се присм ...more
Aaron Martz
Jul 02, 2015 Aaron Martz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is so much Vonnegut in this book that it all starts to run together after a certain point. I can't remember which jokes or which passages were in which essay or speech. This massive collection, which was published in 1981, could have come out today and it would have been just as poignant. Not only do we get a rundown on Vonnegut's family tree dating all the way back to Germany, included with it practically the entire history of Indianapolis, Indiana, but we get discourses on his marriages, ...more
Ryk Stanton
Apr 01, 2016 Ryk Stanton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So much to highlight! So many wise things to say! I love Vonnegut, and this book of miscellaneous this-and-that (it seems to be more college speeches he gave than anything else) is really top-notch. Some slow parts, some stuff that I skipped over, but overall very good.

I'll share a few of my highlights with you:

“That is how you get to be a writer, incidentally: you feel somehow marginal, somehow slightly off-balance all the time."

"every one of the tales of lost innocence you receive will embody
Jan 12, 2015 Gina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I haven't gotten my hands on Wampeters, so this was my first foray into Vonnegut's nonfiction/memoir-ish collections. I found it fantastic from first page to last and also a bit heartbreaking. Heartbreaking because KV "jokes" throughout about how unappreciated his work was, not only by literary critics (about whom he has provided the reader with several brilliant observations), but also by his own large and extended family with whom he clearly wished to be closer. By example, a bookstore- owning ...more
Jul 20, 2010 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the things that I love about the Internet is that I can run across things that I wrote a while ago, read them, and be reminded of how dumb I can be. Kurt Vonnegut probably would have loved that too. But he's been stuck in the ground for a few years.
So it goes.
Sometimes I find something I like. When that happens, I realize that it lives there, on the Internet, and probably can't be converted to a piece of paper because it is an Internet creature. Unless one were to get a "Stuff White Peop
Mia Parviainen
Vonnegut himself calls this book a "pastiche," a high-falutin' word I only learned last year in a grad course on contemporary American literature. It's a collection of stuff. Book reviews. Family history. A letter his daughter wrote in defense of a fellow waitress who was fired. Copies of speeches given on various occasions.

As a Vonnegut fan, I was intrigued by the opportunity to go through the book. It's Vonnegut unplugged--he provides his sardonic commentary, as applied to mostly real life ev
I love Kurt Vonnegut!!

I got this from the library not realizing that it was non-fiction and a sort of autobiographical collage (kind of like a blog before they existed). So it wasn't a tight, neat, clever story like Cat's Cradle, but I couldn't help totally loving this guy's writing, and much of his perspective on the world.

Some theological highlights:

-"I don't think anybody ever dreaded hell as much as most of us dread the contempt of our fellowmen. Under our new and heartfelt moral code, we mi
Feb 20, 2010 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Vonnegut fans will appreciate this hodgepodge of writings for its insights on his life, work, and family. It's long, at over 300 pages, and some parts are more interesting than others. I loved where he gave each of his books a grade (Palm Sunday itself got a C) and seeing the graphs of story plots (his rejected master's thesis at University of Chicago). There's a good reason much of this wasn't published before, but items like "The Big Space Fuck" and Vonnegut's "Free Thinking" speech to the 197 ...more
May 05, 2008 St-Michel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, own
A collection of lectures, speeches, essays, Statler Brothers' songs and whatever else he managed to cram in here, it's all very Vonnegut at its core...well, maybe all except for the Statler Brothers' songs, those are purely country. Heh.

It's definitely not Vonnegut's best work, but it's a good read nonetheless and has some very interesting quotes inside. Vonnegut's got an interesting slant on life, and this book pretty much throws the doors open on that outlook and let's you inside his own littl
Feb 16, 2016 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Palm Sunday" is a book that dedicated Vonnegut fans should read, but not the casual reader. I imagine they would not appreciate what Vonnegut is doing here. The book is subtitled an "autobiographical collage", and that is an apt description. It is nonfiction, with the exception of two short humorous creative pieces that Vonnegut throws in. It has hints at the bitterness that would come to swallow up Vonnegut's' later works, but it had not consumed him yet when he wrote "Palm Sunday".
One of the
Jan 15, 2016 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting concept: Vonnegut takes a series of speeches, old pieces of writing, stuff written by family members, and ties them together with comments to make something of an autobiography of himself. Naturally, it jumps a lot and some parts are less intriguing than others.

The stuff written by his uncle goes in depth into his family in a way that I can only imagine was interesting to other family members. However, he has his amazing short story "The Big Space Fuck," for those of us not intrig
Sep 04, 2015 CaldoHendo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kurt Vonnegut was a man ‘who laughed a lot and was kind to everyone’, but apart from that I know very little about him. Palm Sunday is the perfect book for any Vonnegut fan who wants to learn more about the life of the author, minus all the boring bits. It’s not so much an autobiography but a collection of speeches, essays, letters and other stray musings. Disjointed and unusual though it may seem, three fairly typical autobiographical themes – family, job and life changing events – soon emerge. ...more
This book is a collage of various essays, biographical sketches and interviews with Kurt Vonnegut about his life and career. It was OK. I suppose this book would be more appreciated if I were a Vonnegut fan, but he's not my favorite novelist. I did appreciate his discussion of his military career and life as a POW in Germany during the Dresden fire bombings, which gave him the insight that he used to write his novel "Slaughterhouse Five." After the war he spent a bit of time as a graduate studen ...more
Stewart Mitchell
Aug 12, 2014 Stewart Mitchell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I consider Kurt Vonnegut one of my closest friends. It's a shame that I'll never meet him.

Ever since I read Slaughterhouse-Five, my first Vonnegut book, I've been hooked. I have literally wasted entire paychecks on nothing but Vonnegut. I have all of his novels, short stories, nonfiction, speeches, everything. I even have a Slaughterhouse t-shirt which I will wear religiously in college in search of new friends with common interests. After reading 3 Vonnegut novels in no apparent order, I decide
Apr 29, 2015 Ross rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of essays, speeches and magazine articles, this work feels a bit 'thrown together'. But there are some gems within, including some good advice for fledgling writers: "Did you ever admire an empty-headed writer for his or her mastery of the language? No... Find a subject you care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style."
Feb 19, 2015 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thought I'd read this this week in honor of the 70th anniversary of the firebombing of Dresden and the man who emerged with a mission to bring people together, to understand, help, and laugh with anyone and everyone despite all outrages.

So I’ve read more books by Vonnegut than any other author, obviously I love his outlook on life and his style, yet I have not read this until now. I’ve mentioned my dislike of nonfiction
Nov 29, 2007 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished reading this a few weeks ago and loved it. At first I thought it was tedious and indigestible, but the further along I got, the more I appreciated this sarcastic, collage-autobiography. Well worth a read, but only if you've read a few Vonnegut books beforehand. Otherwise you might get offended, or might not understand the comedic arrogance of the novel.
I read this for an Advance Composition class. I never thought much about it however the concepts he brings to his audiences attention keep coming up in real life situations so I guess this was more of a valuable work than I thought.
Jan 03, 2008 S rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ah, Mr. Vonnegut, we never did get to smoke those Pall Malls. So it goes....
Apr 13, 2016 Catie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Books are sacred to free men for very good reasons, and that wars have been fought against nations which hate books and burn them. If you are an American, you must allow ideas to circulate freely in your community, not merely your own."

"What troubles me most about my lovely country is that its children are seldom taught that American freedom will vanish, if, when they grow up, and in the exercise of their duties as citizens, they insist that our courts and policemen and prisons be guided by div
Tom Schulte
Herein he grades his own works and, I agree, Palm Sunday was kind of a let down.

This grab-bag of Vonnegut as avuncular American wit and curmudgeon contains some of the addresses to convocations found in If This Isn't Nice, What Is?: Advice for the Young, sad words on the bigot-shadow of Jack Kerouac, lauding reviews of Louis-Ferdinand Céline, self-reviews which gives this a "C" (I agree) and much too much, IMO, genealogy material on the Vonnegut forebears. Some parts that stand out are his adora
E. Ozols
Yeah, I'm not really sure how to review this one. i thought I would love this book because I consider myself a Vonnegut fan, and I generally find it interesting to hear what our heroes are like just on their own. But, within the first couple chapters, I started questioning whether I even am a Vonnegut fan. I mean, it's been over a decade since I read Cat's Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five, which I remember loving, and Breakfast of Champions, which I read more recently, was just kinda alright. But ...more
Meghan C.
Aug 18, 2014 Meghan C. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
Enjoyment of this book is wholly dependent on the amount of affection for its author the reader brings with her. Fortunately for me, Vonnegut can do no wrong.

This is as straight forward as it comes with Vonnegut. He calls the book a collage and it is, true to his word, a pastiche of musings--some to himself, some as part of public speeches he gave over the years. They're not all gems. The first 50 pages are so he gives over to his uncle to describe the Vonnegut family tree, which is nearly as dr
Jan 01, 2011 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Palm Sunday is not my favorite Vonnegut book, but then again, it's not his favorite either. He at one point within the book gives a report card of his prior works, which is pretty funny. Palm Sunday gets a C.

Palm Sunday is a compilation of prior speeches and minor works that Vonnegut had given &/or written. Also included are some works by other people that Vonnegut wanted to include. As a whole it does not gel as well as it could. Turns out, it's a little bit slapdash.

I think my favorite pa
Hansen Wendlandt
Jul 26, 2011 Hansen Wendlandt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One has to be pretty darn interesting to get away with sneaking one's grandparents' history into one's own autobiography. Vonnegut is, in fact, pretty darn interesting, a product of his own "cultivated eccentric" relatives and this boob-fool country. Vonnegut is, in the case of Self-Interview, barely more than clever, but perfect for those of us who know and love his blend of self-deprecation and purity of genius. For instance, he tells us (what is also a preacher's trick): "every successful cre ...more
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Kurt Vonnegut, Junior was an American novelist, satirist, and most recently, graphic artist. He was recognized as New York State Author for 2001-2003.

He was born in Indianapolis, later the setting for many of his novels. He attended Cornell University from 1941 to 1943, where he wrote a column for the student newspaper, the Cornell Daily Sun. Vonnegut trained as a chemist and worked as a journali
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