Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Kurt Vonnegut  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Born: November 11, 1922 in Indiana

Sites:


Illinois Connection

Vonnegut attended the University of Chicago as a graduate student in anthropology and also worked as a police reporter at the

City News Bureau

of Chicago

Biographical and Professional Information

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. is 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, the setting for many of his novels. He attended Cornell University from 1941 to 1943, where he served as an opinions section editor for the student newspaper, the Cornell Daily Sun. Vonnegut trained as a chemist and worked as a journalist before joining the U.S. Army and serving in World War II. He is a combat infantry veteran and holds a Purple Heart.After the war, he attended the University of Chicago as a graduate student in anthropology and also worked as a police reporter at the City News Bureau of Chicago. He left Chicago to work in Schenectady, New York, in public relations for General Electric. He attributed his unadorned writing style to his reporting work.His experiences as an advance scout in the Battle of the Bulge, and in particular his witnessing of the bombing of Dresden, Germany, while a prisoner of war, would inform much of his work. This event would also form the core of his most famous work, Slaughterhouse-Five, the book that would make him a millionaire. This acerbic 200-page book is what most people mean when they describe a work as "Vonnegutian" in scope.Vonnegut is a self-proclaimed humanist and socialist (influenced by the style of Indiana's own Eugene V. Debs) and has recently done a print advertisement for the American Civil Liberties Union. He is also a notable world federalist.From 1970 to 2000, Vonnegut lived in an East Side Manhattan brownstone, with his wife, the renowned photographer Jill Krementz. On January 31, 2000, a fire destroyed the top story of his home. Vonnegut suffered smoke inhalation and was hospitalized in critical condition for four days. He survived, but his personal archives were destroyed, and after leaving the hospital he retired to Northampton, Massachusetts. He taught an advanced writing class at Smith College for a period in 2000.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Player Piano: A Novel
ISBN: 0385333781

The Dial Press. 1999

“A funny, savage appraisal of a totally automated American society of the future.”—San Francisco Chronicle

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.

Praise for Player Piano

“An exuberant, crackling style . . . Vonnegut is a black humorist, fantasist and satirist, a man disposed to deep and comic reflection on the human dilemma.”Life

“His black logic . . . gives us something to laugh about and much to fear.”The New York Times Book Review

The Sirens of Titan: A Novel
ISBN: 0385333498

Dial Press Trade Paperback. 1998

“[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

Mother Night
ISBN: 0385334141

Delta Trade Paperback. 1999

“Vonnegut is George Orwell, Dr. Caligari and Flash Gordon compounded into one writer . . . a zany but moral mad scientist.”—Time

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.

“A great artist.”—Cincinnati Enquirer

“A shaking up in the kaleidoscope of laughter . . . Reading Vonnegut is addictive!”—Commonweal

Cat's Cradle: A Novel
ISBN: 038533348X

Dell Publishing. 1998

“A free-wheeling vehicle . . . an unforgettable ride!”—The

New York Times



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.

“[Vonnegut is] an unimitative and inimitable social satirist.”—Harper’s Magazine

“Our finest black-humorist . . . We laugh in self-defense.”—Atlantic Monthly

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A Novel
ISBN: 0385333471

Dial Press Trade Paperback. 1998

“[Vonnegut] at his wildest best.”—The New York Times Book Review

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.

“A brilliantly funny satire on almost everything.”—Conrad Aiken

“[Vonnegut was] our finest black humorist. . . . We laugh in self-defense.”—The Atlantic Monthly

Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel (Modern Library 100 Best Novels)
ISBN: 0385333846

Dial Press Trade Paperback. 1999

Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we fear most.

Breakfast of Champions: A Novel
ISBN: 0385334206

Dial Press Trade Paperback. 1999

“Marvelous . . . [Vonnegut] wheels out all the complaints about America and makes them seem fresh, funny, outrageous, hateful and lovable.”—The New York Times

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.

“Free-wheeling, wild and great . . . uniquely Vonnegut.”—Publishers Weekly

Slapstick or Lonesome No More!
ISBN: 0385334230

Dial Press Trade Paperback. 1999

“Some of the best and most moving Vonnegut.”—San Francisco Chronicle

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.

“Both funny and sad . . . just about perfect.”—Los Angeles Times


“Imaginative and hilarious . . . a brilliant vision of our wrecked, wacked-out future.”—Hartford Courant

Jailbird: A Novel
ISBN: 0385333900

Dial Press Trade Paperback. 1999

“[Kurt Vonnegut] has never been more satirically on-target. . . . Nothing is spared.”—People

Jailbird
takes us into a fractured and comic, pure Vonnegut world of high crimes and misdemeanors in government—and in the heart. This wry tale follows bumbling bureaucrat Walter F. Starbuck from Harvard to the Nixon White House to the penitentiary as Watergate’s least known co-conspirator. But the humor turns dark when Vonnegut shines his spotlight on the cold hearts and calculated greed of the mighty, giving a razor-sharp edge to an unforgettable portrait of power and politics in our times.

Praise for Jailbird

“[Vonnegut] is our strongest writer . . . the most stubbornly imaginative.”—John Irving


“A gem . . . a mature, imaginative novel—possibly the best he has written . . .

Jailbird

is a guided tour de force of America. Take it!”Playboy

“A profoundly humane comedy . . .

Jailbird

definitely mounts up on angelic wings—in its speed, in its sparkle, and in its high-flying intent.”Chicago Tribune Book World


“Joyously inventive . . . gleams with the loony magic Vonnegut alone can achieve.”Cosmopolitan


“Vonnegut is our great apocalyptic writer, the closest thing we’ve had to a prophet since . . . Lenny Bruce.”Chicago Sun-Times


“Vonnegut at his impressive best. . . . His imaginative leaps alone . . . are worth the price of admission. . . . His far-reaching metaphysical and cultural concerns . . . are ultimately serious and worth our contemplation.”The Washington Post

Deadeye Dick: A Novel
ISBN: 0385334176

Dial Press Trade Paperback. 1999

“The master at his quirky, provocative best.”—Cosmopolitan

Deadeye Dick is Kurt Vonnegut’s funny, chillingly satirical look at the death of innocence. Amid a true Vonnegutian host of horrors—a double murder, a fatal dose of radioactivity, a decapitation, an annihilation of a city by a neutron bomb—Rudy Waltz, aka Deadeye Dick, takes us along on a zany search for absolution and happiness. Here is a tale of crime and punishment that makes us rethink what we believe . . . and who we say we are.

Praise for Deadeye Dick

“A moving fable . . . Vonnegut, sweet cynic and ugly duckling, continues to write gentle swan songs for our uncivil society.”Playboy



“A brilliantly unconventional novel . . . a must for all Vonnegut fans.”—Worcester Sunday Telegram


“Hits the bull’s-eye . . . dolefully celebrates the randomness of life, treating private and public disasters with a kind of reckless whimsy. . . . You don’t read Kurt Vonnegut for meaning exactly. You read him for the sad-funny attitude of mind, the kind of weirdness that can interpret the world’s weirdness.”USA Today


“Vonnegut is beguiling as ever . . . Incredible plot constructions and inventive language continue to leap from his typewriter . . . the humor is natural and inborn

the insight usually purchased by his characters at painfully high cost. Funny how life turns out. Even funnier how Mr. Vonnegut turns life’s insanities into funny, profound sense. That takes a master’s touch. Mr. Vonnegut still has it.”Kansas City Star


“Playful and imaginative . . . On finishing the novel, the kitchen of your mind is a cleaner and more well-lighted place than it was before.”Houston Chronicle


“Endearing and enchanting . . . a wise and charming book . . . very full of life.”Glamour

Galapagos: A Novel (Delta Fiction)
ISBN: 0385333870

Dial Press Trade Paperback. 1999

“A madcap genealogical adventure . . . Vonnegut is a postmodern Mark Twain.”The

New York Times Book Review

Galápagos takes the reader back one million years, to A.D. 1986. A simple vacation cruise suddenly becomes an evolutionary journey. Thanks to an apocalypse, a small group of survivors stranded on the Galápagos Islands are about to become the progenitors of a brave, new, and totally different human race. In this inimitable novel, America’ s master satirist looks at our world and shows us all that is sadly, madly awry–and all that is worth saving.

Praise for

Galápagos

“The best Vonnegut novel yet!”—John Irving

“Beautiful . . . provocative, arresting reading.”USA Today

“A satire in the classic tradition . . . a dark vision, a heartfelt warning.”The Detroit Free Press


“Interesting, engaging, sad and yet very funny . . . Vonnegut is still in top form. If he has no prescription for alleviating the pain of the human condition, at least he is a first-rate diagnostician.”—Susan Isaacs, Newsday


“Dark . . . original and funny.”People


“A triumph of style, originality and warped yet consistent logic . . . a condensation, an evolution of Vonnegut’s entire career, including all the issues and questions he has pursued relentlessly for four decades.”The Philadelphia Inquirer


“Wild details, wry humor, outrageous characters . . . Galápagos

is a comic lament, a sadly ironic vison.”St. Louis Post-Dispatch


“A work of high comedy, sadness and imagination.”The Denver Post


“Wacky wit and irreverent imagination .

. . and the full range of technical innovations have made [Vonnegut] America’s preeminent experimental novelist.”The Minneapolis Star and Tribune

Bluebeard: A Novel (Delta Fiction)
ISBN: 038533351X

Dial Press Trade Paperback. 1998

“Ranks with Vonnegut’s best and goes one step beyond . . . joyous, soaring fiction.”—The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

Broad humor and bitter irony collide in this fictional autobiography of Rabo Karabekian, who, at age seventy-one, wants to be left alone on his Long Island estate with the secret he has locked inside his potato barn. But then a voluptuous young widow badgers Rabo into telling his life story—and Vonnegut in turn tells us the plain, heart-hammering truth about man’s careless fancy to create or destroy what he loves.

Praise for Bluebeard

“Vonnegut is at his edifying best.”The Philadelphia Inquirer

“The quicksilver mind of Vonnegut is at it again. . . . He displays all his talents—satire, irony, ridicule, slapstick, and even a shaggy dog story of epic proportions.”The Cincinnati Post


“[Kurt Vonnegut is] a voice you can trust to keep poking holes in the social fabric.”San Francisco Chronicle


“It has the qualities of classic Bosch and

Slaughterhouse

Vonnegut. . . .

Bluebeard

is uncommonly feisty.”USA Today


“Is Bluebeard good? Yes! . . . This is vintage Vonnegut—good wine from his best grapes.”The Detroit News


“A joyride . . . Vonnegut is more fascinated and puzzled than angered by the human stupidities and contradictions he discerns so keenly. So hop in his rumble seat. As you whiz along, what you observe may provide some new perspectives.”Kansas City Star

Hocus Pocus
ISBN: 0425161293

Berkley. 1997

From the author of Timequake, this "irresistible" novel (Cleveland Plain Dealer) tells the story of Eugene Debs Hartke-Vietnam veteran, jazz pianist, college professor, and prognosticator of the apocalypse. It's "Vonnegut's best novel in years-funny and prophetic...something special." (The Nation)

Timequake
ISBN: 0425164349

Berkley. 1998

There's been a timequake. And everyone—even you—must live the decade between February 17, 1991 and February 17, 2001 over again. The trick is that we all have to do exactly the same things as we did the first time—minute by minute, hour by hour, year by year, betting on the wrong horse again, marrying the wrong person again. Why? You'll have to ask the old science fiction writer, Kilgore Trout. This was all his idea.

Canary in a Cat House
ISBN: 0899667570

Buccaneer Books. 1991

"Canary in a Cathouse" is a collection of twelve short stories by Kurt Vonnegut which was first published in 1961. Contents: Report on the Barnhouse Effect All The Kings Horses D.P. The Manned Missiles The Euphio Question More Stately Mansions The Foster Portfolio Deer in the Works Hal Irwin’s Magic Lamp Tom Edison’s Shaggy Dog Unready To Wear Tomorrow and Tomorrow Fuji Books' edition of "Canary In A Cat House" contains supplementary texts: 2 B R 0 2 B, By Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Big Trip Up Yonder, By Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. A Few Selected Quotes Of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Welcome to the Monkey House: A Collection of Short Works
ISBN: 0385333501

Dial Press. 1998

“[Kurt Vonnegut] strips the flesh from bone and makes you laugh while he does it. . . . There are twenty-five stories here, and each hits a nerve ending.”—The

Charlotte Observer

Welcome to the Monkey House is a collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s shorter works. Originally printed in publications as diverse as The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and The Atlantic Monthly, these superb stories share Vonnegut’s audacious sense of humor and extraordinary range of creative vision.


Includes the following stories:

“Where I Live”
“Harrison Bergeron”
“Who Am I This Time?”
“Welcome to the Monkey House”
“Long Walk to Forever”
“The Foster Portfolio”
“Miss Temptation”
“All the King’s Horses”
“Tom Edison’s Shaggy Dog”
“New Dictionary”
“Next Door”
“More Stately Mansions”
“The Hyannis Port Story”
“D.P.”
“Report on the Barnhouse Effect”
“The Euphio Question”
“Go Back to Your Precious Wife and Son”
“Deer in the Works”
“The Lie”
“Unready to Wear”
“The Kid Nobody Could Handle”
“The Manned Missiles”
“Epicac”
“Adam”
“Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow”

Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction
ISBN: 0425174468

Berkley. 2000

Never-before-collected, vintage Vonnegut.

"Vonnegut said that his last book, Timequake (1997), would be his last, but no one as imaginative and in love with language and story can resist the lure of the page, and it's obvious that he had a grand time working on this collection of his vintage stories. Bagombo Snuff Box resurrects Vonnegut's earliest efforts, stories written during the fifties and sixties for such popular venues as The Saturday Evening Post and Collier's. In his engagingly autobiographical introduction, Vonnegut describes his stints as a Chicago journalist and PR man for General Electric in Schenectady, New York

his decision to supplement his income by writing

and his rapid success and evolution into a full-time writer. So, here are his literary roots, a set of stories that reflects their era's eagerness to turn the horrors of war into anecdote and to equate technology with progress. Unabashedly fablelike, they can be either sly or sweet, sentimental or vaudevillian, but all are quietly subversive. . . . Rich in low-key humor and good old-fashioned morality, Vonnegut's stories are both wily and tender." —Booklist

"You trust this voice . . . the pretentious are all brought to earth with his wit . . . These stories . . . speak only of simple truths." —Chicago Sun-Times

Armageddon in Retrospect
ISBN: 0399155082

G.P. Putnam's Sons. 2008

New Hardcover with dust jacket


Awards

-- N/A