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One of the great American iconoclasts holds forth on politics war books and writers and his personal life in a series of conversations including his last published interview During his long career Kurt Vonnegut won international praise for his novels plays and essays In this new anthology of conversations with Vonnegut—which collects interviews from throughout his career—we learn much about what drove Vonnegut to write and how he viewed his work at the end From Kurt Vonnegut's last interview Is there another book in you by chance?No Look I’m 84 years old Writers of fiction have usually done their best work by the time they’re 45 Chess masters are through when they’re 35 and so are baseball players There are plenty of other people writing Let them do itSo what’s the old man’s game then?My country is in ruins So I’m a fish in a poisoned fishbowl I’m mostly just heartsick about this There should have been hope This should have been a great country But we are despised all over the world now I was hoping to build a country and add to its literature That’s why I served in World War II and that’s why I wrote booksWhen someone reads one of your books what would you like them to take from the experience?Well I’d like the guy—or the girl of course—to put the book down and think “This is the greatest man who ever lived”

10 thoughts on “Kurt Vonnegut

  1. says:

    “Look practice an art no matter how badly or how well you do it It will make your soul grow”This text contains six interviews that Kurt Vonnegut gave over the course of 40 years including the last two he ever gave One of the six is a joint interview with fellow writer Joseph Heller It is probably the most interesting as the two satirists play well off of each otherThe final two interviews in then collection were taken in then last year of his life and they are bitter and ugly Kurt Vonnegut descended into great anger in his later years and it has always disturbed me Reading these interviews you see clearly where Vonnegut learned what sounded good and he used it often Can’t blame the guy for that This is not a sit down and read as a whole book but it has some interesting bits you can pick up from time to time if you are a Vonnegut fan

  2. says:

    Some really candid interviews in this collection Vonnegut lived an interesting life allright He talks about being trained on the 240 millimeter howitzer during the war being captured by the Germans and being uestioned about his German ancestry by German soldiers his first impressions of Dresden and how they hid in an underground meat locker when the siren went off He is very succinct about the bombing of Dresden Then a siren went off it was February 13 1945 and we went down two stories under the pavement into a big meat locker It was cool there with cadavers hanging all around When we came up the city was gone He calls Dresden the largest massacre in European history I like reading about these portions of history that are sort of obscure Naipaul often wrote about how nobody in India knows about the Vijayanagar Kingdom that was destroyed by the four Muslim sultanates I guess Dresden used to be a bit like that In one interview Vonnegut talks a lot about his highly artistic and talented family His mother was a writer father an architect and his older brother was a scientist who discovered that silver iodide could help produce snow and rain The book includes a Playboy companion interview with Vonnegut and Joseph Heller Vonnegut also provides great motivation for reluctant artists “ Look practice an art no matter how badly or how well you do it It will make your soul grow” That’s why you do it You don’t do it to become famous or rich You do it to make your soul grow This would include singing in the shower dancing to the radio by yourself drawing a picture of your roommate or writing a poem or whatever Please practice an art Have the experience of becoming It’s so sad that many public school systems are eliminating the arts because it’s no way to make a living What’s important is to have the experience of becoming which is as necessary as food or sex It’s really uite a sensation — to become

  3. says:

    If you make people laugh or cry about little black marks on sheets of white paper what is that but a practical joke? 49I blew through these interviews I read most of them in a single sitting They're fascinating and provide a fairly good picture of Kurt Vonnegut at different stages in his life The interviews date from early ones in 1977 to late ones in 2007 right before his death at age 84 Recurring subjects there is significant overlap although this didn't particularly bother me are war especially the Dresden bombings which took place while Vonnegut was there and out of which experiences Slaughterhouse Five would emerge art writing family life politics religion and education The interviews become gloomier as they progress chronologically as Vonnegut's disappointment over and lamentation of the state of the world generally and The United States particularly increasingly take center stage in his later life and conversations My country is in ruins So I'm a fish in a poisoned fish bowl I'm mostly just heartsick about this There should have been hope This should have been a great country But we are despised all over the world now I was hoping to build a country and add to its literature That's why I served in World War II and that's why I wrote books 161He did of course add not only to the literature of The States but to that of the world And there is plenty of hope left in the works that he gave us let's focus on that

  4. says:

    Six interviews spanning a number of years with the added bonus that one of them is a two way interview with that other brilliant American satirist Joseph Heller There's a great deal of repetition as interviewers ask Vonnegut the same uestion across the years but the intent of the book is obviously to preserve the respondent's words in situ rather than edit them towards a seamless whole and the book is crammed full of Vonnegut's humour wisdom and uniue sadly lost perspective of the post War world A little treasure of a book to be kept close and dipped into again and again

  5. says:

    When someone reads one of your books what would you like them to take from the experience Well I'd like the guy or girl of course to put the book down and think This is the greatest man who ever lived laughsEverything in the book is beautiful and nothing really hurt Definitely a feast for the Vonnegut followers Lot of insights from his family background his experiences with wars advertising works The Conversation of his with Joseph Heller was pure gold which I didn't see it coming This crazy old man never disappoints to amaze me with his crazy way of seeing things and persuade me that's the highest form of wisdom

  6. says:

    Although I do not regard Kurt Vonnegut as belonging to the top echelon of American authors I do regard his work as worth the effort to read largely because he is wiser in the ways of life than many talented authors who get by only with the help of liuor and drugs Kurt Vonnegut The Last Interview And Other Conversations contains a number of interviews that largely overlap one another in several places but which redeem themselves by Vonnegut's views on war peace and the grinding loneliness of American lifeHe never trained as an author In fact he was a chemist when he went into World War II as a private Even though he wrote many books Vonnegut thought thatit can be tremendously refreshing if a creator of literature has something on his mind other than the history of literature so far Literature should not disappear up its own asshole so to speakPerhaps the only problem with this book is that the interviewers did not ask mthe uestions I would like to have seen answered by Vonnegut

  7. says:

    My son and I had a book exchange today and so I sat down this afternoon to spend some time w one of my favorite authors This collection of interviews spans 30 years from 1977 to 2007 just a few months before his passing on at the age of 84 Many topics are covered from his family and growing up in Indiana his misguided efforts to earn a degree in chemistry the influence of his WWII experiences on his writing and his world view his writing and despair over the human condition and America not having lived up to its promise He is blunt outspoken funny flippant angry and so dearly wanting the human race to pull itself together like the song he implored us to smile on your brothers and love one another right now It is perhaps because he was such a passionate humanist that he became increasingly despondent about Americas willingness to make the hard choices and solve real problems He felt we only had one political party the Party Of the Wealthy and his open letter to Ira was worthy of Jonathan Swift The 1992 Playboy interview with Joseph Heller and Vonnegut was a delightful read hilarious witty great picture of the times and the growth of these two authors and their friendship It made me wish there aw an audio of it How I would love to hear their voices It brought back such clear memories of reading Catch 22 and Cats Cradle during my early college years Being an author naturally he had lots to say about reading and the arts Fiction is a game for two You have to make it possible for the reader to play alongWhen asked if words have any power left he reflected on reading the novel was a performance artto stare at horizontal lines of phonetic symbols and Arabic numbers and to be able to put a show on in your head it reuires a reader to perform If you can do it you can go whaling in the South Pacific w Herman Melville or you can watch Madame Bovary make a mess of her life inParis Loved not just he had to say about the arts but also how he was able to enrich his own last years through his artistic collaboration and a new friendship He was not suffering that great loneliness of the modern age with extended families spread hither and yon His advice to young people but I would guess all people waspractice an art no matter how badly or how well you do it It will make your soul grow What's important is to have the experience of becoming It's a slim book that can be read in a few hours And for the next few hours you can leaf back through it here and there and enjoy the seeds of thought again and know you have spent time with a compassionate human who only wished the best for each and every one of us

  8. says:

    I wouldn't recommend this book to someone who hasn't read at least the basics of the Vonnegut catalog Slaughterhouse Five Breakfast of Champions because they might not understand the many references to Vonnegut books and be put off by some of the language and his views of oh the current US government public schools the way humans are destoying the planet and the like That being said I loved it and am saddened by the reality that there will be no new Vonnegut writing for me to enjoy The interview with both Vonnegut and Joseph Heller is the best thing I've read in a very long time In case you were wondering the last paragraph of Vonnegut's final interview is this Here is what my great grandfather Clemens Vonnegut said one time about Jesus 'If what he said was good and it was marvelous what did it matter if it was good or not?' And I am enormously influenced by the Sermon on the Mount But I gotta go I'm not well Good luck

  9. says:

    Well of course it gets 5 stars it's Vonnegut for Christ's sake Vonnegut on a bad day is still worth 5 starsReally interesting funny sad and illuminating and the added bonus of a conversation with Joseph Heller in the middle another of my literary heroesI've read some reviews which say this is a rip off as it's actually a series of interviews many of which deal with the same uestions and ideas as each other I disagree the interviews take place over 40 or so years and I feel complement each other you get a sense of Vonnegut over time and how he has changed and in other ways not which was really fascinatingInspired me to go back and re read some of my favourites and Catch 22 too

  10. says:

    It's an art form for very few people To stare at horizontal lines of phonetic symbols and Arabic numbers and to be able to put on a show in your head it reuires the reader to perform US Airways Magazine 2007This book felt like having a casual conversation with KV I particularly liked the 1992 Playboy interview with him and Joseph Heller They were uite funny together and full of insight Highly recommend to Vonnegut fans