“[Kurt Vonnegut’s] best book . . . He dares not only ask the ultimate question about the meaning of life, but to answer it.”—Esquire The Sirens of Titan is an outrageous romp through space, time, and morality. The richest, most depraved man on Earth, Malachi Constant, is offered a chance to take a space journey to distant worlds with a beautiful woman at his side. Of course there’ s a catch to the invitation–and a prophetic vision about the purpose of human life that only Vonnegut has the courage to tell. “Reading Vonnegut is addictive!”—Commonweal
The Sirens of Titan (1959), Vonnegut’s second novel, was on the Hugo final ballot along with Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and lost in what Harlan Ellison called a monumental injustice. Malachi Constant is a feckless but ultimately good-hearted millionaire who, in this incondensable interplanetary Candide (lacking perhaps Voltaire’s utter bitterness), searches the solar system for the ultimate meaning of existence. Constant is aided by another tycoon, Winston Rumfoord, who, with the help of aliens, has discovered the fundamental meaning of life. With the help of Salo - an alien robot overseeing the alien race, the Tralmafordians (who also feature in Slaughterhouse-Five) - Constant attempts to find some cosmic sense and order in the face of universal malevolence. Constant and Rumfoord deal with the metaphysics of “chrono-synclastic infundibula” and the interference of the Tralmafadorians. The novel is pervaded by a goofy, episodic charm which barely shields the readers (or the characters) from the fact of what seems to be a large and indifferent universe. All of Vonnegut’s themes and obsessions, further developed or recycled in later work, are evident here in a novel slightly more hopeful than most of his canon. It is suggested that ultimately Constant learns only that it is impossible to learn, that fate (and the Tralmafadorians) are impenetrable. On the basis of this novel, Vonnegut was wholly claimed by the science fiction community (as the Hugo nomination demonstrated) but he did not reciprocate, feeling from the outset that to be identified as a science fiction writer would limit his audience and trivialize his themes. His recurring character, the hack science fiction writer Kilgore Trout (prominent in Slaughterhouse-Five) was for Vonnegut a worst case version of the writer he did not wish to become.
In Breakfast of Champions, one of Kurt Vonnegut’s most beloved characters, the aging writer Kilgore Trout, finds to his horror that a Midwest car dealer is taking his fiction as truth. What follows is murderously funny satire, as Vonnegut looks at war, sex, racism, success, politics, and pollution in America and reminds us how to see the truth. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Cat’s Cradle is Kurt Vonnegut’s satirical commentary on modern man and his madness. An apocalyptic tale of this planet’s ultimate fate, it features a midget as the protagonist, a complete, original theology created by a calypso singer, and a vision of the future that is at once blackly fatalistic and hilariously funny. A book that left an indelible mark on an entire generation of readers, Cat’s Cradle is one of the twentieth century’s most important works—and Vonnegut at his very best. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Kurt Vonnegut’s first novel spins the chilling tale of engineer Paul Proteus, who must find a way to live in a world dominated by a supercomputer and run completely by machines. Paul’s rebellion is vintage Vonnegut—wildly funny, deadly serious, and terrifyingly close to reality. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Eliot Rosewater—drunk, volunteer fireman, and President of the fabulously rich Rosewater Foundation—is about to attempt a noble experiment with human nature . . . with a little help from writer Kilgore Trout. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater is Kurt Vonnegut’s funniest satire, an etched-in-acid portrayal of the greed, hypocrisy, and follies of the flesh we are all heir to. From the Trade Paperback edition.
The author's first full-length novel in seven years, a hilarious moral satire features a science fiction writer, Kilgore Trout, who manages to turn time back a decade, insisting that everyone repeat it exactly the same way. Reprint.
Mother Night is a daring challenge to our moral sense. American Howard W. Campbell, Jr., a spy during World War II, is now on trial in Israel as a Nazi war criminal. But is he really guilty? In this brilliant book rife with true gallows humor, Vonnegut turns black and white into a chilling shade of gray with a verdict that will haunt us all. From the Trade Paperback edition.
A Man Without a Country is Kurt Vonnegut’s hilariously funny and razor-sharp look at life ("If I die—God forbid—I would like to go to heaven to ask somebody in charge up there, ‘Hey, what was the good news and what was the bad news?"), art ("To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it."), politics ("I asked former Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton what he thought of our great victory over Iraq and he said, ‘Mohammed Ali versus Mr. Rogers.’"), and the condition of the soul of America today ("What has happened to us?"). Based on short essays and speeches composed over the last five years and plentifully illustrated with artwork by the author throughout, A Man Without a Country gives us Vonnegut both speaking out with indignation and writing tenderly to his fellow Americans, sometimes joking, at other times hopeless, always searching.
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 truth. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: 2010-10-31
Rudolf Waltz's principal objection to life was that it was too easy to make horrible mistakes. He was himself to become a double-murderer at the age of twelve - on Mother's Day. This would at least make subsequent mistakes seem fairly trivial. Rudolf's father, Otto Waltz, had in 1910 bought a painting in Vienna from a destitute Adolf Hitler, thereby possibly saving him from starvation for a future generation. He made the further mistake of setting himself up as an artist when he returned from Europe to Midland City, Ohio, where everyone knew Otto couldn't draw for sour apples. He had funds to indulge this grand illusion (in the splendor of a vast converted 'medieval granary' studio, reminiscent of Mount Fujiyama) because his father had made a fortune producing an opium-and-cocaine-laced quack medicine called Saint Elmo's Remedy, popularly known to be 'absolutely harmless unless discontinued'. The Waltz inheritance even stretched to a troupe of black servants, which was just as well since Rudy's mother was as disinclined to look after a home as his 'artist' father was to paint.
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. From the Trade Paperback edition.