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From Publishers Weekly
In his first book since 1999, it's just like old times as Vonnegut (now 82) makes with the deeply black humor in this collection of articles written over the last five years, many from the alternative magazine In These Times. But the pessimistic wisecracks may be wearing thin; the conversational tone of the pieces is like Garrison Keillor with a savage undercurrent. Still, the schtick works fine most of the time, underscored by hand-lettered aphorisms between chapters. Some essays suffer from authorial self-indulgence, however, like taking a dull story about mailing a manuscript and stretching it to interminable lengths. Vonnegut reserves special bile for the "psychopathic personalities" (i.e., "smart, personable people who have no consciences") in the Bush administration, which he accuses of invading Iraq so America can score more of the oil to which we have become addicted. People, he says, are just "chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power." Of course, that's exactly the sort of misanthropy hardcore Vonnegut fans will lap up—the online versions of these pieces are already described as the most popular Web pages in the history of In These Times. (Sept.)
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A Man Without a Country is Kurt Vonnegut’s hilarious 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?”). Gleaned from 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.
Kurt Vonnegut is among the very few grandmasters of contemporary American letters, without whom the very term “American literature” would mean less than it does. His novels include Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five, among so many others. Projects with Seven Stories Press in recent years include God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian and, with Lee Stringer, Like Shaking Hands with God, a book about writing. His most recent novel is Timequake (1997). In addition to his writing, Vonnegut is a visual artist of note. His paintings and prints can be seen at www.vonnegut.com. He lives with his wife, photographer Jill Krementz, in New York City.
Daniel Simon is the founder and publisher of Seven Stories Press and served as editor on two previous books by Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian and, with Lee Stringer, Like Shaking Hands God. Simon is also co-author of a biography of Abbie Hoffman, Run, Run, Run: The Lives of Abbie Hoffman.
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