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Slapstick presents an apocalyptic vision as seen through the eyes of the current King of Manhattan and last President of the United States a wickedly irreverent look at the all too possible results of today’s follies But even the end of life as we know it is transformed by Kurt Vonnegut’s pen into hilarious farce—a final slapstick that may be the Almighty’s joke on us all


10 thoughts on “Slapstick

  1. says:

    “If you can do no good at least do no harm”“Love is where you find it I think it is foolish to go around looking for it and I think it can be poisonous I wish that people who are conventionally supposed to love each other would say to each other when they fight 'Please — a little less love and a little common decency'”“What does seem important? Bargaining in good faith with destiny” Kurt Vonnegut's Slapstick or Lonesome No More is a sort of autobiography within an autobiography In the prologue Vonnegut the author meditates on the death of his sister Alice on loneliness and the assertion that the novel Slapstick itself is autobiographical Slapstick then is written by the former last president of the United States Wilbur Daffodil 11 Swain from his nearly empty offices in the Empire State Building It is a post apocalyptic world The US government has collapsed and much of humanity has been ravaged by plagues known as the green death caused by the fatal inhalation of Chinese who have miniaturized themselves and the Albanian flu Swain writes about his life and the connection to his twin sister Eliza without whom neither one is really whole They are viewed as simpletons; however together they are brilliant and wildly creative Their separation at age 15 signals the destruction of paradise Apart the twins refer to their simpleton selves as Betty and Bobby Brown Even years later Eliza asks WilburHow could anybody love Bobby Brown? Hi ho Though Vonnegut gave it a grade of 'D' I really enjoyed Slapstick Unlike some other works by Vonnegut it was immediately engaging and of course fun and wildly irreverent 425 stars Again and as sort of a postscript I wonder about Vonnegut's perception of Wyoming If you ever go to Wyoming This reference occurs with respect to a new scheme to create artificial families Swain is told he'd have connections wouldn't be lonesome Otherwise and in so much of his other work Wyoming exists on the edge of crazy “In case nobody has told you she said this is the United States of America where nobody has a right to rely on anybody else where everybody learns to make his or her own way”“FËDOR Mikhailovich Dostoevski theRussian novelist said one time that One sacred memory from childhood is perhaps the best education I can think of another uickie education for a child which in its way is almost as salutary Meeting a human being who is tremendously respected by the adult world and realizing that that person is actually a malicious lunatic”


  2. says:

    “And how did wethen face the odds of man's rude slapstick yes and God's?uite at home and unafraid Thank you in a gameour dreams remade” ― Kurt Vonnegut Slapstick or Lonesome No More My 15 ear old son broke the screen on his iPhone 6s I'm letting him buy down the debt to me by reading 6 Vonnegut novels before the end of the year Every book he reads drops his big OWE down by 10 upto 60 He is still on the hook for the other 80 This is what happens when daddy is an absurdist but rules like a fascist King Hi hoSo I've decided to read a lot of the Vonnegut novels he's going to be reading before the end of the year too It has been 30 years since I went on a huge Vonnegut tear It seems in an era of Donald Trump I'm going to need as many absurdist tools on my belt as possible What better way than a book about loneliness incest perhaps not or technically yes but also not disease the destruction of America and the Church of Jesus Christ the Kidnapped There are other stronger Vonneguts where I could have started but I'm also trying to go through my Library of America Vonnegut Novels 1976 1985 Plus it is hard to avoid a book that uses the phrase “Why don't you take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut? Why don't you take a flying fuck at the mooooooooooooon?” often and with literary abandonAs far as the stars the book itself probably only warrants a Vonnegut 3 star except for the fact that the autobiographical introduction is so good I'm tossing in another star because well I can


  3. says:

    Vonnegut's most farcical most absurd but also one of the scathing satires Here Vonnegut takes on universalism and totalitarianism but on a grander scale than he allowed in Harrison Bergeron; but also this is surreal His genius though as seen in other novels is to creatively intersperse pockets of stark realism to accentuate and to highlight the circus like theme Vonnegut also uses elements of grotesue to further illustrate his none too subtle rebuke of egalitarianism This is thought provoking though in terms of his over the top humanism and decidedly liberal politics A good read and a must read for a Vonnegut fan A new reader to his canon would be better advised to start with Slaughterhouse Five or Cat's Cradle 2019 rereadHi HoLyn Geranium 27 here reporting on Kurt Vonnegut’s ninth novel first published in 1974When I first read this back in the olden days of the late 80s I didn’t like it so much At the time I had no exposure of and a dim understanding of absurdist humor After college introduced me to Eugene Ionescu Albert Camus and Samuel Beckett I had a little better idea about how much fun it could be and through the microscope of hyperbole how important as a literary device it could beVonnegut tells this outrageous tale of the last President of the United States a two meter tall Neanderthal genius twin who presided over the fizzled out end of western civilization What follows is disease famine and decentralized fiefdomsBut civilization is not over the Chinese have learned among a great many things to go full Ant Man and reduce their size to better utilize lessened resourcesWhat stands out the most to me was Vonnegut’s ideas earlier hinted at in Cat’s Cradle and Wampeters Foma and Granfalloons about how lonesome we are and what we desperately need are extended families as in primitive societiesOur hero Wilbur introduces the law that everyone will replace their middle name with a randomly generated noun and number combination An example is Daffodill 11 or Uranium 8 This then would become the person’s family and they could support each other or not just like today If you don’t want to deal with a non family member Wilbur invites us to say this to them“You can take a flying f at a rolling doughnut you can take a flying f at the Moooooooon”And so onVonnegut describes to us a world through absurdist exaggeration a world of desperate individuals who want connection and a necessary ideal toward fixing such a calamity in the example of the little ChineseToo much funHi Ho


  4. says:

    Loneliness and isolation What can they do to one’s destiny? What does it mean to be different from the others?We were aware of all the comedy in this But as brilliant as we were when we put our heads together we did not guess until we were fifteen that we were also in the midst of a tragedy We thought that ugliness was simply amusing to people in the outside world We did not realize that we could actually nauseate strangers who came upon us unexpectedly Slapstick or Lonesome No More is post apocalyptic burlesue Everything in the novel is turned inside out and even the apocalypse is ludicrously absurdThe old protagonist writes a preposterous story of his long life but as usual hiding behind the façade of fun Kurt Vonnegut explores the serious problems existing in the modern societyYes and I write now with a palsied hand and an aching head for I drank much too much at my birthday party last nightVera Chipmunk 5 Zappa arrived encrusted with diamonds borne through the ailanthus forest in a sedan chair accompanied by an entourage of fourteen slaves She brought me wine and beer which made me drunk But her most intoxicating gifts were a thousand candles she and her slaves had made in a colonial candle mold We fitted them into the empty mouths of my thousand candlesticks and deployed them over the lobby floorThen we lit them allStanding among all those tiny wavering lights I felt as though I were God up to my knees in the Milky Way“Bear ye one another’s burdens” Galatians 62 This remedy for loneliness is known since the ancient times


  5. says:

    Slapstick begins with a prologue that I won't hesitate to rank among Vonnegut's absolute best writing It is honest it is tenderhearted it is sad and funny and bittersweet It also provides an explicit key to deciphering the novel that follows which is unusual In another author's hands such a trick might seem overeager and embarassing But Vonnegut does as he always does and makes the silly and embarrassing work gracefully towards his purposes—presenting his thoughts so concisely and so cheerily that it is impossible not to feel a groundswell of emotion and a firm immediate rapport Vonnegut knew what it was to be human with all the messy ugly parts and all the beautiful triumphant parts and all the messy parts that become beautiful because they are real and essential to usAs his 8th novel out of 14 I guess we'd place this one into his middle era and Slapstick is written in the staccato style I most often associate with Vonnegut's later books Assuming his aim was to provide plenty of places to stop for reflection along the way I took the opportunity to read this book slowly a dozen pages a day or so with lots of space between each of those pages to feel to think about what made me feel that way and then to feel again what thinking about feeling that way made me feel It was pleasant but potentThis is Vonnegut so there are uotable zingers all along the way as usual But it's also an exercise in actively caring again as usual Truth be told I need all the gentle reminders I can get to be a kind and decent person in this world we occupy Vonnegut doles those reminders out liberally and with explicit comedy here than I recall in his other worksI do have some criticism for this book but when I go to write it down it seems trivial in comparison with the big feelings that it stirred up in me About the most severe thing I can bring myself to say is this it's not Vonnegut's strongest novel and it is cruder than his greatest hitsBut still emphatically 5 stars out of 5 There's a cliché freuently passed around parenting circles Find Your Tribe For years I've dismissed it as empty pablum but Vonnegut just made it real to me


  6. says:

    Hmmm deformed incestuous fraternal twins become geniuses when they touch their heads together One is the last President of the United States of America Ridiculous yes? No This is Vonnegut I liked this one I like all Vonnegut actually I'm very biased don't listen to me Hi ho


  7. says:

    At this point I've gotten fairly familiar with Kurt Vonnegut's tone and flavor The sense of universalism and euality consistently sound as often as his humor and irony ringsThis books reads as a perversion of all four themes To meUsually Vonnegut's works seem to read with some underlying sense that no matter how bizarre everything seems no matter how depressing or how inspiring a situation seems there's always a punchline and that punchline brings you back to reality forcing the reader to realize that we're all human We're all prone to make mistakes just as often as we succeeed We're all prone to die just as sure as we're prone to live We're all prone for 15 minutes of fame surrounded by an average of 764 years of mundaneness But that doesn't ring the same for Slapstick The introduction gives you an immediate idea of why Vonnegut steps out of his comfort zone on this oneIf the introduction reads true and there's no guarantee that reality and honesty aren't being blurred in any of Vonnegut's novels then he wrote this following the death of his sister His sister coincidentally died days after her husband was killed in a freak accident As if this pit of depression didn't dip far enough down the couple left a cadre of children that Vonnegut would go on to adoptSo this is understandingly sympathetically a departure from the Vonnegut norm The main character is a freak that finds himself surrounded by similarly freakish people Smartly the freaks in this novel are those people that perhaps seem the most normal and successful The main character is a grotesue monster who is a successful pediatrician though he graduated at the bottom of his Ivy League class a former Senator and currently the reluctant President of the United States He had written the best selling novel about child care with his best friend and twin sister He has revolutionized mankind's interpretation of family He is one of the few healthy survivors left on the Island of Death Manhattan He has just sold the Louisiana Purchase to the King of Michigan for a dollar And he regularly gets an erectionOk Fair enough The novel does take place in a post apocalyptic future where most humans have been killed by a mysterious plague Manhattan is a haven of corpses slaves and candlesticks and gravity fluctuates with the weather The usual science fiction elements are still in place However I do not put this side by side with the normal Vonnegut works and I cannot There is not a happy ending However in hindsight I don't believe I've read a happy ending in any of his works I suppose it's safer to say that there's of an impending doom with little to no hope of salvation in Slapstick But to be fair to the reader Vonnegut delicately expressed this very early in the book when he compared salvation to a Turkey farm one can communicate with via a lunch boxRead it if you're curious Read it if you're a Vonnegut fan Go take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut if you're neither Or take a flying fuck at the moooooooooonI love and miss you Kurt Vonnegut


  8. says:

    I never put Kurt Vonnegut on my list of favorite authors and shame on me for that as I’ve at the very least liked everything I’ve read by the man One of the things I always love about his work is that he was uite possibly the most hopeful cynic in existence Pessimism is borderline overwhelming in his work but it always seemed like deep down he still liked people and hoped we would do better even while being positive that we were doomed by our own failuresWell not so here This book is Slapstick and like the slapstick comedies of old there is only failure here Some people may be good and some may improve along the way but there is no hope here This is easily the bleakest novel I’ve read by Vonnegut view spoilerand that’s saying something considering he literally ended the world in one of his novels hide spoiler


  9. says:

    Any other Sunflower 13’s out there?


  10. says:

    And with that I learned once again that I was an asshole I read 'Cat's Cradle' when I was in high school and taking a lot of ecstasy so I hated everything except the Chemical Brothers Since I hated Cat's Cradle then I've assumed that I didn't like Mr Vonnegut for the last what dozen years? I only picked this one up 'cause I never see old editions of it and Josh said it's his favorite That all sucks I mean I don't think he's perfect I'd remembered his kind of smug eccentric uncle persona being at the fore kind of like Tom Robbins tends to do Which by the way is a big part of why I find Tom Robbins so unreadable I get it you're smart you're charming you're just like every other straight boy who thinks he's hot shit Next But it wasn't so out front In fact this was just a bizarre story about genius twins that Aimee Bender would've told differently but which she could have told I also feel like I don't want to give away anything but there are some bizarre structural things that happen Mostly it's nice Sometimes the way he'll gloss over a few decades is jarring for me The bit where the main story ends and the postscript starts is such a funny fuck you plot decision Love it So yeah So now I'm gonna read of this guy Kerry you were right about this guy the whole time