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Palm Sunday

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  4,169 ratings  ·  146 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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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Susan
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
oriana
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
...more
MJ Nicholls
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
Frederick
Mar 02, 2008 Frederick rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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,
...more
Adam
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
...more
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
...more
Devon
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
...more
Rachel
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
St-Michel
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
...more
Walter
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
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
...more
James
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.
Emma
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.
Meghan C.
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
...more
Sara
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
...more
Hansen Wendlandt
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
Pvw
A collection of diverse short writings by Vonnegut, varying from speeches to story ideas. The speeches are usually not so interesting to read, but among the other texts there are some jewels. One is called "Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde (updated)" and it's about a school that stages a disco/pop version of Jeckyll and Hyde to raise fundings. That results in a hilarious parody of the High School Musical, and I believe that the school's chemistry teacher (coincidentally also named Jeckyll) turns himself i ...more
Tommy
Reading Vonnegut is such a joyous experience, especially his autobiographical sketches, where you feel as if the man is just sitting with you, casually throwing off witticisms, deft observations, and sacred beliefs. It's you and Kurt, sharing a glass of lemonade under the shade of a grand willow tree for an afternoon.

Here, Kurt shares his thoughts on a cornucopia of subjects, from censorship and American politics (circa the '70's, mostly) to how and why jokes work. He pays homage to the author h
...more
Brett
Parts of this book were fascinating to me. Pure Vonnegut. Everything I hope for, expect, and always get from Kurt Vonnegut. Essays, speeches, the transcript of a thoroughly enjoyable interview ("Literature should not disappear up it's own ass, as it were"; classic!), and thoughts on some of his contemporary authors. I found the latter to be the most enjoyable. A bizarre evening with Jack Kerouac, an insightful, if not scathing, literary review of Heller's Something Happened (I never could find C ...more
David
This was definitely my least favorite of Vonnegut's books. It's a group of his various speeches, essays, commencement addresses, book introductions, and letters. They're woven together well enough and it's often entertaining, but I found things dull here and there. What really killed my enthusiasm for Palm Sunday at first was the second chapter: a retelling of his uncle's retelling of Vonnegut's family tree, all the way down to the author. It went on for 38 pages—a good chunk of the book—and did ...more
Nick
I confess I've not read absolutely all of this - I've dipped in and out, I've skipped over some of the parts I thought were less interesting - this is unusual for me, as I'm generally a Vonnegut completist. But there was still enough for me to love this collection.

Listen: the self-interview is hilarious and also profound. It begins with a musing on how difficult it is to try and get spoken ideas out of a writer who is more comfortable thinking first and writing things down, then discusses his ba
...more
Tracey
I checked this book out after checking the library's catalog to see what Vonnegut books they had that I did not.

This collection of writings, speeches and whatnot is, as he wrote in a previous collection "bitter coatings around sweet pills". Some of the articles are eulogies for friends and colleagues, others are dedication speeches and commencement addresses. He includes one short story, as well as book reviews and introductions to other writers' novels. At one point, he grades his own novels -
...more
Jacqueline Wagenstein
Тази книга е безценно находище на спомени и отломки от живота на писателя, принадлежащ, по собствените му думи, към „последното разпознаваемо поколение професионални американски романисти“.

Вонегът пише с увлекателно остроумие, ирония и проникновена мъдрост за любимите си комедианти, кънтри музиката, един мъртъв приятел, един мъртъв брак и разни дребни случки от твърде човешкия му житейски път. От това произведение се носи необикновеният глас на Вонегът – вълшебният звук на един роден разказвач,
...more
María G. Gunnlaugsdóttir
This was my first Vonnegut book and I must admit I'm a bit perplexed over what I just read. I like the autobiographical parts along with his short reviews of various literature that moved him. Different parts of the book seem on the other hand in a bit of a contradiction with each other, nothing important maybe but it felt like I was reading a sort of autobiographical patchwork quilt where random leftovers were sewn together with larger stories (all intentional literary genius he explains in his ...more
Gabby
A really great book for all Kurt Vonnegut fans. A lot of the thinking behind most of his books is explained through this vast collection of essays, speeches and articles. I actually kept a pen with the book and underlined quite a few quotes and overall brilliant ideas. I found Chapter 18 the most interesting because Vonnegut actually grades his own works (only comparing himself to himself, of course) and I completely agree with his scoring, Cat's Cradle gets an A+. Some favorite quotes:
1. "Nobod
...more
Adrian
Collection of speeches, reviews, articles and autobiography. Good stuff. Enjoyed particularly his piece on his whacky great grandfather Clemens Vonnegut, the interview of KV by Paris Review, and snippets about his life. Learned about French writer Celine who I knew nothing about. Finally read some Vonnegut! I think there is a deep sadness in the man that gives his writing added heft. Don't know if I'm ready for Cat's Cradle though.
Isshi69nikkei
Miałam mieszane uczucia, bo książka momentami strasznie się dłużyła i powiewało nudą w kierunku dwóch gwiazdek. W porównaniu z innymi pozycjami Vonneguta było to jakieś nieco mdłe. Więcej niż połowa książki była mało ciekawa i nie zamierzam tego ukrywać.
Część tekstu czytało się po prostu dobrze, ale bez fajerwerków, natomiast pojawiło się też kilka smaczków czy nawiązań. Wspominki dotyczące innych jego książek i podejścia do pisania w ogóle. "Pierwsze opowiadanie ze słowem fuck w tytule" - aż mn
...more
Aaron
My beef is that this was written as a reflective text well before the end of his career - it's a wonderful collection strung together with essential biographical narration, but it still feels incomplete. More than maybe any other text of his I've read to date, Palm Sunday made me understand that my purpose in reading Vonnegut' s cannon is an exercise in wrestling with humanism as I continue to find my own moral and spiritual bearings. And wow was I mesmerized by that sermon on the mount joke at ...more
Bryce Wilson
I really miss Kurt Vonnegut, there's no one better in making vile and ridiculous things look vile and ridiculous.

This is something of an odds and sods collection, a mixture of letters, speeches, family history, philosphy, lectures, short stories, unpublished work, and good old fashioned bitching. As a result the quality varies, in particular an unpublished script for a musical based on Dr. Jekyl And Mr. Hyde, is probably the worst thing I've ever read by Vonnegut. It's painfully unfunny, truly
...more
Vicky
I skimmed a few chapters, which is why I didn't give it a full 5 stars. But here and there throughout the book I found some absolute gems. Words I read over and over again- really taken by them. I think of Vonnegut almost like a philosopher or sociologist more than an author. Like this- which he says his Freethinker grandfather wrote for his own funeral in 1874:

"Be aware of this truth that the people of this earth could be joyous, if only they would live rationally and if they would contribute m
...more
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2778055
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
...more
More about Kurt Vonnegut...
Slaughterhouse-Five Cat's Cradle Breakfast of Champions The Sirens of Titan Mother Night

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