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Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  5,582 ratings  ·  233 reviews
In this self-portrait by an American genius, Kurt Vonnegut writes with beguiling wit and poignant wisdom about his favorite comedians, country music, a dead friend, a dead marriage, and various cockamamie aspects of his all-too-human journey through life. This is a work that resonates with Vonnegut’s singular voice: the magic sound of a born storyteller mesmerizing us with ...more
ebook, 386 pages
Published September 30th 2009 by The Dial Press (first published 1981)
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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Dec 27, 2013 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 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 sp
Chris Dietzel
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is Vonnegut at his nonfiction best. As much as I liked A Man Without a Country, I think this was superior. Among the highlights for me were his thoughts back when he was a writing teacher, the self interview he did for the Paris review, his family's thoughts on his writing, and the impact that the Dresdon fire bombing that he wrote about in Slaughterhouse 5 had on him throughout his life. Much of the book is classic Vonnegut in the fact that it is humorous and pessimistic, but there are also plenty ...more
Jan 05, 2008 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
"Laughs are exactly as honorable as tears."

This nonfiction collection is a mishmash of speeches, essays, interviews, and family history with a healthy dose of his inherited "heart-felt moral code." A must-read for KV fans.

I love his nonfiction because it's very conversational. If I could have dinner with an author, dead or alive, I would certainly choose him.
MJ Nicholls
Jan 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 collection. A self-in ...more
Nov 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Vonnegut is such a rewarding experience. It's also such an easy one, his words flow with such ease - as if he is in the room and addressing you alone.

I enjoyed this, but I so longed for it to be a story, for the appearance of Trout or Pilgrim - or even Hoover. I miss Mr Vonnegut.

God Bless You.

And so he went.
Carol Storm
Good eulogy for Chicago tough-guy James T. Farrell, but why on earth was he sucking up to William F. Buckley? And what's with "my list of really cool celebrity friends?" How insecure was this guy anyway?
Feb 22, 2008 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 Vonneg
Joshua Rigsby
You know how sometimes you get home from work too tired to cook so you throw open the fridge and pull out all the leftovers? That is this book. It's a smorgasbord of family history, speeches, observations, and work rejected for publication elsewhere. Some of it is edible, some even enjoyable, but a few dishes should have been thrown away months ago, before they sprouted legs and eyes.

So it goes.
Feb 16, 2016 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 o
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vonnegut writes a hell of a blivit. This companion to 1974's "Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons" consists, like that earlier volume, largely of non-fiction in the form of essays, addresses, interviews, etc. And like its companion, it offers a wealth of insight into Vonnegut's fiction, with particular emphasis on autobiographical connections. You don't have to be a Vonnegut devotee, either, in order to enjoy "Palm Sunday," although his self-assessment of his novels (he assigns grades to each of ...more
Jul 13, 2010 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 Whit
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
Timons Esaias
I've read almost all of Vonnegut's published novels, and a couple of his short story collections, and this sat on my shelf as the "new" Vonnegut, which I am startled to realize was 38 years old when I finally pulled it down to read. Time trundles on, it seems. Ouch.

And I have two "newer" Vonnegut collections on my shelf, as well. I have a feeling I won't be caught up on my reading until the middle of my second century.

But enough about my pathetic situation. The book. Unev
Apr 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I prefer to alternate back and forth between fiction and non-fiction in order to maintain my interest in reading and so that I do not get burned out on one genre or another.

Having just read a clinical psychology text, I was craving some existential bittersweet human-condition material and figured it had been awhile since I read such a Vonnegut story. So without really glancing at the cover I picked Palm Sunday off of my shelf.

Oops! This one's an auto-biography. Well, sort of.

Feb 11, 2015 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 dis
Ryk Stanton
Apr 01, 2016 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 los
Jul 08, 2014 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
Feb 20, 2010 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 1974 gra ...more
Aaron Martz
May 25, 2015 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
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
Apr 29, 2015 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 g
Jul 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Funny how when the real world is managing to produce events and stories that would be way beyond what the average writer would consider plausible (and frankly, some bits beyond sci-fi), a chance to head back to a wise voice talking about well, damn near anything. Which is exactly what this is - a compendium of essays, letters, interviews, and general musings from Vonnegut. It's great, and I always enjoy his non-fiction immensely. Some hit more than others, nearly all ramble, which is a huge part ...more
Adam Floridia
Maybe choosing to teach this was not a good idea. At least not in an Advanced Comp class. As I re-read it in the "analyzing serious rhetoric/crafting academic argument" frame of mind, I couldn't help but be disappointed. Not that I didn't still like it, but because I didn't love it. What's worse: if this is my students' first experience with Vonnegut, they may have been turned off. ARGH!!

Still, I won't let this one bad reading taint my view of the book--I'll still remember by my impr
Apr 26, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2008
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 h
Apr 23, 2014 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."
Jun 17, 2007 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 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ah, Mr. Vonnegut, we never did get to smoke those Pall Malls. So it goes....
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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
“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” 822 likes
“Anyway—because we are readers, we don't have to wait for some communications executive to decide what we should think about next—and how we should think about it. We can fill our heads with anything from aardvarks to zucchinis—at any time of night or day.” 574 likes
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