This collection of Vonnegut’s letters is the autobiography he never wrote – from the letter he posted home upon being freed from a German POW camp, to notes of advice to his children: ‘Don’t let anybody tell you that smoking and boozing are bad for you. Here I am fifty-five years old, and I never felt better in my life’. Peppered with insights, one-liners and missives to the likes of Norman Mailer, Gunter Grass and Bernard Malamud, Vonnegut is funny, wise and modest. As he himself said: ‘I am an American fad—of a slightly higher order than the hula hoop’.
Like Vonnegut’s books, his letters make you think, they make you outraged and they make you laugh. Written over a sixty-year period, and never published before, these letters are alive with the unique point of view that made Vonnegut one of the most original writers in American fiction.
While Mortals Sleep is a smart, clear-eyed collection of stories from one of the most original writers in American fiction. Set in trailers, bars and factories, Vonnegut conjures up a world where men and machines, art and artifice, fame and fortune become curiously twisted and characters pit their dreams and fears against a cruel and comically indifferent world.
Written early in his career, and never published before, these tightly plotted stories are infused with Vonnegut's distinctive blend of observation, imagination and scabrous humour.
This collection features an introduction by Dave Eggers.
Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle is an irreverent and highly entertaining fantasy about the playful irresponsibility of nuclear scientists, beautifully repackaged as part of the Penguin Essentials range.
'All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies.'
Dr Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding fathers of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to the world. For he is the inventor of Ice-nine, a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. The search for its whereabouts leads to Hoenikker's three eccentric children, to a crazed dictator in the Caribbean, to madness.
Will Felix Hoenikker's death wish come true? Will his last, fatal gift to humankind bring about the end that, for all of us, is nigh?
Told with deadpan humour and bitter irony, Kurt Vonnegut's cult tale of global apocalypse preys on our deepest fears of witnessing the end and, worse still, surviving it . . .
'The time to read Vonnegut is just when you begin to suspect that the world is not what it appears to be. He is not only entertaining, he is electrocuting. You read him with enormous pleasure because he makes your hair stand on end' New York Times
'One of the warmest, wisest, funniest voices to be found anywhere in fiction' Daily Telegraph
'Vonnegut has looked the world straight in the eye and never flinched' J. G. Ballard
Kurt Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis in 1922. He studied at the universities of Chicago and Tennessee and later began to write short stories for magazines. His first novel, Player Piano, was published in 1951 and was followed by The Sirens of Titan (1959), Mother Night (1961), Cat's Cradle (1963), God Bless You Mr Rosewater (1964), Welcome to the Monkey House (1968); a collection of short stories, Slaughterhouse Five (1969), Breakfast of Champions (1973), Slapstick, or Lonesome No More (1976), Jailbird (1979), Deadeye Dick (1982), Galapagos (1985), Bluebeard (1988), Hocus Pocus (1990) and Timequake (1997). He is also the author of a number of collections of short stories and essays. Kurt Vonnegut died in 2007.
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.
Look at the Birdie evokes a world in which squabbling couples, high school geniuses, misfit office workers, and small-town Lotharios struggle to adapt to changing technology, moral ambiguity, and unprecedented affluence. In "Confido," a family learns the downside of confiding their deepest secrets into a magical invention. In "Ed Luby's Key Club," a man finds himself in a Kafkaesque world of trouble after he runs afoul of the shady underworld boss who calls the shots in an upstate New York town. In "Look at the Birdie," a quack psychiatrist turned "murder counsellor" concocts a novel new outlet for his paranoid patients. The stories are cautionary they also brim with his trademark humour.
Wry, ironic, satirical and poignant Look at the Birdie reflects the anxieties of the postwar era in which they were written and provides an insight into the development of Vonnegut's early style
With his trademark dry wit, Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle is an inventive science fiction satire that preys on our deepest fears of witnessing Armageddon - and, worse still, surviving it. This Penguin Modern Classics edition includes an introduction by Benjamin Kunkel.
Dr Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding 'fathers' of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to humanity. For he is the inventor of ice-nine, a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. Writer Jonah's search for his whereabouts leads him to Hoenikker's three eccentric children, to an island republic in the Caribbean where the absurd religion of Bokononism is practised, to love and to insanity. Told with deadpan humour and bitter irony, Kurt Vonnegut's cult tale of global destruction is a frightening and funny satire on the end of the world and the madness of mankind.
Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) was born in Indianapolis. During the Second World War he was a prisoner in Germany and present at the bombing of Dresden, an experience he recounted in his famous novel Slaughterhouse Five (1969). His first novel, Player Piano, was published in 1951 and since then he has written many novels, including The Sirens of Titan, Jailbird, Deadeye Dick, Galapagos and Hocus Pocus.
If you enjoyed Cat's Cradle, you might like Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.
'One of the warmest, wisest, funniest voices to be found anywhere in fiction'
Sam Leith, Daily Telegraph
'A free-wheeling vehicle ... An unforgettable ride!'
The New York Times
'Vonnegut looked the world straight in the eye and never flinched'
New York, 1950. A young PR man working at General Electric sold his first magazine piece. By the time he'd sold his third, he decided to quit his job and join the likes of Salinger, Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Faulkner, and make a living as a full-time writer. That young man was Kurt Vonnegut.
Bagombo Snuff Box collects Vonnegut’s favourite stories from the postwar years that sharpened his dark, vaudevillian and quietly subversive voice. Here we see the mind-bending wit and central themes of his masterpiece, Slaughterhouse-Five. A must-read for Vonnegut aficionados new and old.
A diabolical government asserts control by eliminating orgasms from sex in the title story of Welcome to the Monkey House – setting the tone for a collection shot through with Vonnegut's acrid wit, and his bewilderment at the corruption of humanity.
From riffs on country music, George Bush, and his mother’s midnight mania, to a bittersweet tribute to a dead friend, Palm Sunday demonstrates why Kurt Vonnegut is equally well known as an essayist and commentator as he is a novelist.
This caustic, funny and poignant collection resonates with Vonnegut’s singular voice.
Pay attention please to the life of Walter F. Starbuck. Nineteen-hundred and Thirteen gave him the gift of life. Nineteenth-hundred and Thirty-one sent him to Harvard. Nineteen-hundred and Thirty-eight got him a job in the federal government. Nineteen-hundred and Seventy gave him a job in the Nixon White House. Nineteen-hundred and Seventy-five sent him to prison for his part in the American political scandals known collectively as 'Watergate'.
Now Walter F. Starbuck is coming out of jail, into the brave new world of 1980s Manhattan, and this is the story of his first twenty-four hours of freedom.
Kurt Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis in 1922 and studied biochemistry at Cornell University. During the Second World War he served in Europe and, as a prisoner of war in Germany, witnessed the destruction of Dresden by Allied bombers, an experience which inspired his classic novel Slaughterhouse-Five. He is the author of thirteen other novels, three collections of stories and five non-fiction books. Kurt Vonnegut died in 2007.