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Fates Worse Than Death

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,820 Ratings  ·  103 Reviews
The author offers a collection of essays and speeches discussing the future of Earth, neoconservatism, Alcoholics Anonymous, liturgical music, and other topics, and includes autobiographical commentary on the past ten years of his own life.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 1st 1992 by Berkley (first published July 1st 1982)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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MJ Nicholls
This is Vonnegut’s last in the trio of “autobiographical collages,” which is a canny way of presenting various nonfiction materials without having to impose a structure on the book. This is the most shambolic of the three—firstly, Fates Worse Than Death is divided into conventional chapters, so the reader has no contents table to peruse the various speeches Kurt reproduces here from recent public speaking events. And the book is mostly reproduced public speeches, most of which are entertaining a ...more
Jul 13, 2009 Beth rated it it was amazing
I read this book all the way through on June 6 2007, in the lobby of the Executive West hotel in Louisville, KY while my husband took his radiology boards. It was as if Kurt Vonnegut himself was seated beside me and had spent that day with me. He made me laugh, he made me think and he took my mind off of the matter at hand. It was one of the bright sunny, wonderful days of one's life and I am so happy that Kurt was part of it.
Jan 26, 2012 Anne rated it it was amazing
As I work my way through his books, I find that I love his speeches and essays far more than his fiction. That is a pleasant surprise. I absolutely loved this book - perhaps more than Palm Sunday. There are too many passages to quote but I'll note a few:

"We were in hell, thanks to technology which was telling us what to do, instead of the other way around. And it wasn't just TV. It was weapons which could actually kill everything half a world away. It was vehicles powered by glurp from undergrou
Dec 25, 2011 Diana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Съдби, по-лоши от смъртта" вероятно не е най-добрата книга на Кърт Вонегът, но със сигурност е една от тези с най-силен личен елемент. Многото автобиографични моменти в нея са посветени на събитията и личностите, повлияли силно на формирането му като човек и автор - войните, депресиите (икономически и лични), смъртта, голямото му семейство, приятели, музиканти, писатели и много безименни хора. В разказите за повечето от тях, чиито мечти, възгледи и манталитет се разминават с общоприетите или са ...more
Mark Ward
Feb 01, 2016 Mark Ward rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, 2016
Perhaps an odd place to start reading Vonnegut, but I stumbled into it at a friend's recommendation and enjoyed it. Vonnegut is earnest and funny and dark and insightful, with a voice all his own.
Jun 25, 2012 Andrew rated it it was ok
I was first introduced to Vonnegut through his fiction, which is a good portion of what he's written. And that those works are great - he has some unique and interesting ideas, and he has the ability to wrap a funny, compelling, and meaningful story around them.

I eventually stumbled upon the group of Vonnegut's publications, like this one, which feature him speaking in his own voice, presenting his experiences and ideas first hand. And to me, that was so utterly refreshing. Reading his fiction,
Sep 26, 2015 Kenny rated it really liked it
It's one to dip into rather than read cover to cover. A collection of essays and speeches unsurprisingly there is a bit of repetition. But as with all Vonnegut what he says is worth hearing, warm, funny, bewildered and cynical yet hopeful. Often in the same paragraph. I didn't alwAys agree, but I always enjoyed reading this.

And the world's dirtiest limericks joke made me giggle on the train
Mar 21, 2013 Matt rated it it was amazing
I love Vonnegut memoirs, and this one is right on par with Palm Sunday. As someone interested in religion, I appreciated how directly Kurt addresses his own atheism/sloppy Unitarianism, and what he perceives as the failures of Christianity. It always surprises me how much I enjoy the perspectives of this smoky old curmudgeon. This book was written at about the same time as his novel "Hocus Pocus," which is one of his most negative and weakly written novels. It's strange how this memoir then spea ...more
Nov 10, 2014 Carey rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book gosh darn too much.

to quote:

"Dah dah dah dah dah dah dah dah dah,

Dah dah dah dah dah dah dah dah dah!

Dah dah dah dah dah,

Dah dah dah dah dah!

Dah dah dah dah dah fucking cunt."
This is Vonnegut's third nonfiction collection, and covers the 80's. A weaker effort; I thought there was a lot of padding in the book, Vonnegut is grumpier (and seriously depressed), and there is a bit too much name-dropping of his famous author friends. His shtick is starting to get old. But in fairness he admits all of this in the book (except the name-dropping).
Stewart Mitchell
Feb 25, 2015 Stewart Mitchell rated it really liked it
This book, like all of Vonnegut's nonfiction (that I have read so far), is uneven and repetitive in parts. It doesn't have a central theme; it's a collage of speeches, essays, and observations put down to paper by Vonnegut in the 80s. The main point, if I have to come up with one, is that Vonnegut was even more pessimistic later in life than he was after the war. He comments himself on this in the book, as well as much more. While I would only recommend this to die-hard Vonnegut fans (like mysel ...more
Кайти Кат
Feb 20, 2015 Кайти Кат rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite
Oliver Brackenbury
Jul 20, 2015 Oliver Brackenbury rated it liked it
At one point in this collection of non-fiction, mostly short speeches and essays with bracketed commentary by 'present' (1990) Vonnegut on past Vonnegut's words, the author talks about the phenomena of comedians & satirists turning sour in old age. He feels this has happened to him, at least in his speaking engagements. While much the exact mixture in the usual Vonnegut Jr cocktail, bittersweet humanist joy and cynicism, is a bit heavy on the cynicism at times...this doesn't feel unwarranted ...more
Hansen Wendlandt
Jul 26, 2011 Hansen Wendlandt rated it really liked it
One of the main themes of Vonnegut’s career, and of these essays, is that families, and from them our own personal psyches, have been devolved by modern life. The best we can do with its “rootlessness, mobility, and impossibly tough-minded loneliness” (35) is synthetic families, such as AA, the military, artists or (God-forbid) church. Most of this collection, in fact, critiques our modern (early 90’s) world, with a minor key given to the failures of Christianity. To the latter, “What I can’t st ...more
Aug 09, 2012 Rich rated it it was amazing
Another book I re-read every few years (or maybe just "every year."). Favorite quotes:
"I am a humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without expectations of rewards or punishments after I am dead."
"Where is home? I've wondered where home is, and I realized, it's not Mars or someplace like that, it's Indianapolis when I was nine years old. I had a brother and a sister, a cat and a dog, and a mother and a father and uncles and aunts. And there's no way I can get there
Jason Holmes
Jan 24, 2014 Jason Holmes rated it it was amazing
I remember reading this long ago when i was a senior in university and I often think back to this book and the nuggets of wisdom and clarity that were bestowed upon me. This is a collection of eye opening essays that will make you really stop and think about the state of the world. Things were quite a bit different in the peaceful 90's and this book will have a lot more meaning today than it did back then. A recommended read for anyone who is interested in geopolitics and/or delvinginto human na ...more
Aug 02, 2015 Jeff rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
There are some books/authors for which one or two quotations/moments stand out to the degree that I would like to read them out loud to someone. Then there are some books/authors who are so amazing that quotable, read-out-loud moments happen a few times per chapter. Then there is Kurt Vonnegut, who is so funny, opinionated, amazing that there were moments I wanted to read out loud or share with someone else in just about every paragraph. Even though this book consists of essays from the early ni ...more
Sep 02, 2007 Jesse rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Vonnegut readers
for anyone who has read more than three Vonnegut books, this is a must read, at the very least excerpts.

i found many interesting tidbits and humerous insights in this book. at the time i was writing a term paper on Vonnegut. (one of my first and most fun papers ever.) useful in that reagard.

he discusses Ritalin usage, his son's schizophrenia, and many other private matters. this began (rather, contnued) my obsession with ADD and Vonnegut's idoldom to a generation of medicated teens, including m
Milen Marinov
Jan 03, 2015 Milen Marinov rated it really liked it
Classic Vonnegut. Good read, although a bit too autobiographical and abstract. War is the main topic as usual for this author and pacifism is hitting you from every page. Good sence of humor. Ironic and at the same time affirmative towerds life. Unconventional and a bit crazy:)
Feb 19, 2009 Edith rated it liked it
I am waiting for my husband to finish this book; then it will be my turn although he has already read various parts to me that he finds particularly interesting. The onlynovelist that John reads is Kurt Vonnegut; this Christmas season he has put his Ebay business on "vacation" status and has read/reread 6-7 of his books. He likes Vonnegut's unique "take" on everything and feels he gets to the truth of matters more that most. I started one of them but could not get far with his style of novel-wri ...more
Apr 23, 2015 Raymonds009 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful grouping of remembrances amd observations. Sometimes funny and sometimes deadly serious. This is Vonnegut at his best. I still miss him so very much. We need more clear thinkers like him in our world today.
Ryland Matthews
Jul 17, 2014 Ryland Matthews rated it really liked it
Being a collection of essays, Vonnegut does recycle a few jokes a few too many times, but it's his usual, wonderful self, and he throws plenty of shade at Ronald Reagan, and considering that Vonnegut and Reagan-bashing both rank among my all-time favorite things, I whole-heartedly recommend this book
Sep 08, 2008 Wendy rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Deborah Schuff
Sep 22, 2015 Deborah Schuff rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a sadder, more bitter book than usual. It was written/published around the time of the failing of his second marriage, and it shows. It still remains an excellent read.
Feb 11, 2012 Kent rated it really liked it
What a wonderful book full of great ideas from one of our greatest writers. Out of all Vonnegut's Essays books I think this is my favorite. It's put together a little different than Palm Sunday. It is more linear than just putting various essays in any given order. I feel he puts some of his greatest ideas out in this book and it is hard to put it down, because you want to know what he's going to say next. It is much more personal than his other reflective books, but it will make you laugh as we ...more
Sam Klemens
May 20, 2015 Sam Klemens rated it it was amazing
Sweet book, really enjoyed it. Vonnegut's ramblings are awesome, to the point, funny, and insightful. Five out of five, would recommend.
Jane Gollner
Mar 16, 2015 Jane Gollner rated it it was amazing
Awesome. If you love reading Vonnegut read this book.
Jun 21, 2008 Beth rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Vonnegut fans, veterans
I liked reading a lot of Vonnegut's novels when I was in high school and college, but recently I don't enjoy him as much. This book, written in the early 1990s, is subtitled "An Autobiographical Collage" and it rambles from place to place, story to story, without much purpose. Vonnegut comes across as a pessimist who knows he used to be funnier. Those who enjoy Vonnegut will enjoy reading episodes from his life and the lives of his friends. Those who don't like Vonnegut will be bored, or perhaps ...more
Ben Schaffer
Nov 30, 2014 Ben Schaffer rated it really liked it
Christine Fay
Mar 25, 2015 Christine Fay rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Okay, so Kurt Vonnegut took the ‘junior’ off his last name when his father died. So it goes. This collection of speeches and essays about his political musings and cynical postulations is Vonnegut as his best. He really tells it like it is and brings to light the occasional (often) absurdity of politicians and humans, really. Don’t read it unless you want a good dose of reality. I found myself chuckling out loud at his satirical genius and frank way of looking at things.
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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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“If flying-saucer creatures or angels or whatever were to come here in a hundred years, say, and find us gone like the dinosaurs, what might be a good message for humanity to leave for them, maybe carved in great big letters on a Grand Canyon wall? Here is this old poop's suggestion: WE PROBABLY COULD HAVE SAVED OURSELVES, BUT WERE TOO DAMNED LAZY TO TRY VERY HARD...” 19 likes
“The books he and his supporters wanted out of the schools, one of mine among them, were not pornographic, although he would have liked our audience to think so. (There is the word "motherfucker" one time in my Slaughterhouse-Five, as in "Get out of the road, you dumb motherfucker." Ever since that word was published, way back in 1969, children have been attempting to have intercourse with their mothers. When it will stop no one knows.)” 3 likes
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