Vonnegut’s ‘Watergate’ novel, Jailbird may well be his most explicitly political work and also most scathing. The novel follows twenty-four hours in the life of Walter F. Starbuck – a man who has always been at the wrong place at the wrong time – upon his release from prison, where he’d served a sentence for inadvertently being involved in the Watergate scandal. Deploying characteristic non-linear storytelling, we begin with a smoking gun and then Jailbird uncoils like a tight whodunnit mystery.
Through the memoirs of his luckless protagonist, Vonnegut casts a searing eye on the absurdity and reality of economic greed, political malfeasance and incompetence, changing cultural values and the steady erosion of empathy and compassion that follows. Hilarious and fast-paced, Jailbird is a black comedy of errors that only Vonnegut could write.