Moira Russell's Reviews > And So it Goes: Kurt Vonnegut

And So it Goes by Charles J. Shields
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's review
Nov 08, 2011

bookshelves: ebook, on-the-kindle, 2012-50-new-books-challenge

Yes, that was pretty terrible, although less awful than most biographies of female writers (much less prurient description of Vonnegut's love life, for one thing). It was also unsettling how we were just supposed to unquestioningly accept Vonnegut's second wife as a cast-iron bitch, probably because she chose not to cooperate with the biographer (see: Ted Hughes, Sonia Orwell, &c &c). I did enjoy learning totally useless facts about Vonnegut, such as his favourite program being Law and Order. What else is modern American literary biography for?


- He was Geraldo River's father-in-law!
- He appeared in a coffee ad!
- He owned a failed Saab dealership (shades of Rabbit)!
- Lily Vonnegut, the daughter from his second marriage, appeared as Montana Wildhack in a 2010 play (well, I got that from the net)!
- He never got in a fistfight with Norman Mailer! (Well, I deduced that from its non-appearance. Wait, didn't Aristotle say you can't prove a negative? We can never prove Vonnegut didn't get in a fistfight with Mailer? Whoops.)
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Reading Progress

November 8, 2011 – Shelved
April 11, 2012 – Shelved as: ebook
April 11, 2012 – Shelved as: on-the-kindle
April 11, 2012 –
34.0% "Marginally interesting so far. I didn't know Vonnegut had that many children (yeah I remembered, it's in Slapstick, some) or was that unsuccessful for so long. Also one of those HEY I WAS THERE frissons at the EPB mention. But pretty awfully written."
Started Reading
April 12, 2012 –
35.0% "'Carthage after the victorious Romans plowed it under couldn't have looked more desolate' (than post-war Dresden)."
April 12, 2012 –
37.0% "'By joining the TM movement, Jane had pushed off in her own little boat to see what she might see.' What the actual fuck?"
April 12, 2012 –
38.0% "Vonnegut endlessly chastises his wife for working on the McCarthy campaign and not being the perfect helpmeet, but goes off to NYC to romance a much younger woman at the same time. Yes, fabulous."
April 12, 2012 –
55.0% "Vonnegut actually repeatedly addressed the charge that since he appealed to young adults ("children"), his writing was simplistic and childish, but this author makes him sound like a quibbling git. - Similar associations today: if adults like reading books branded as "YA," they're immature. (Never mind that YA branding basically started in the seventies, and hasn't taken hold in some countries other than the US.)"
April 12, 2012 –
55.0% "It's 'wish fulfillment' that while his second wife was trying to get pregnant he wrote Deadeye Dick where a pregnant woman gets shot? OH, WHATEVER"
April 12, 2012 –
55.0% "you know, what this book needs is yet another mention of Thorstein Veblen -- oh, there it is"
April 12, 2012 –
57.0% "Vonnegut's daughter appeared as Montana Wildhack? Well, that's a little mind-blowing."
April 12, 2012 –
57.0% "'Mark, visiting his father (in hospital), decided that he hadn't intended to kill himself because he hadn't tried hard enough' oh, fuck both of you with three rusty chainsaws"
April 12, 2012 –
62.0% "(After he bought a word processor) 'Lily had trouble falling asleep without the sound of a typewriter carriage going back and forth like a loom in her father's third-floor study.' Aww."
April 12, 2012 –
63.0% "Every biography of a male author might as well end: MORAL OF THE STORY - GIRLS, NEVER MARRY A WRITER."
April 12, 2012 –
83.0% "Buried in a footnote: 'a fifteen-year study of thirty creative writers on the faculty of the Workshop. Thirty percent were alcoholics....Eighty percent had had an episode of affective disorders....Two of the thirty writers committed suicide before the study ended' Haaah. Writing: hazardous to your health."
April 12, 2012 –
86.0% "ONE tiny footnote that even hints Vonnegut was probably a real alcoholic in later years. Good going, biographer."
April 12, 2012 –
91.0% "OMFG YET ANOTHER Kindle book with a completely useless _numberless_ index. Why do you do this, publishers? Why? Why?"
April 12, 2012 – Shelved as: 2012-50-new-books-challenge
April 12, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by MJ (new) - rated it 4 stars

MJ Nicholls Ha! I missed your review. You no likey, no? I thought it was perfectly workmanlike.

message 2: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell MJ wrote: "Ha! I missed your review. You no likey, no? I thought it was perfectly workmanlike."

Nah, I thought it was actually a really bad example of modern literary biography - no literary analysis of the subject's works, written much too soon after death so family members interfere, dependent on biased summaries of letters/drafts instead of direct quotations, too short, skipping HUGE chunks of time, &c &c. "Workmanlike" to me implies something good, competent, skilled. This was just mediocre. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

message 3: by MJ (new) - rated it 4 stars

MJ Nicholls I defer to your wisdom on this, I've read very few literary bios. I left it feeling very dissatisfied at Vonnegut so most of my dissatisfaction at Sheilds was absorbed.

message 4: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian "Marvin" Graye Moira wrote: "So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."

Well that was a revelation!

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