Love as Always, Kurt: Vonnegut as I Knew Him ハードカバー – 2009/3/9
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A loving, intimate memoir from a lifelong friend of Kurt Vonnegut, including photos and never-before-published correspondence
When Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. ducked into his classroom at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop in September of 1965, his jokes drew only weak laughter and a few rolled eyes. But workshop student Loree Rackstraw was quietly impressed by this “great bear of a man” and his down-to-earth sensibilities about writing.
That fall, an impossible romance began between the then-unknown author and his student—a brief affair that matured into a joyful, lifelong friendship. Rackstraw distills four decades of memories and Vonnegut’s letters to her into an affectionate memoir that crackles with the creative energy of one of America’s most beloved writers.
Rackstraw’s unique perspective on Vonnegut’s life and how it shaped his famous works portrays a deeply humane man who looked for the humor and absurdity in life in order to survive. And then there are Vonnegut’s own letters: Whether energetic about new projects or frustrated with the “game” of writing and selling “a gazoolian copies,” Vonnegut writes with the playful imagination and generous, accessible brilliance that have always been his trademarks.
Entertainment Weekly, 3/20/09
“When Love as Always, Kurt is at its best, the ‘love’ in Rackstraw's title seems to refer not just to Vonnegut's love for her, but his love for all of us.”
Curled Up with a Good Book
“[Rackstraw’s] insider descriptions of the great author are at times delightful and always insightful.”
Wall Street Journal, 3/16/09
“Rackstraw’s Vonnegut-focused memoir…gives us a chance to track Vonnegut’s private life and public persona and, inevitably, to revisit his literary reputation.”
ForeWord, May/June 2009
“As only one who knew him well could, Rackstraw conjures a robust portrait of this paradoxical legend, drawing on their voluminous correspondence to provide singular insights that both contradict and celebrate his iconic status…Rackstraw’s forte is finding that satisfying balance of objectivity and subjectivity that memoirists must bring to their work…Artfully blending her confidante’s understanding of Vonnegut’s kaleidoscopic personality with an academician’s assessment of his timeless and universal themes, Rackstraw manages to offer both a dignified testimonial to a literary master and a loving tribute to a lifelong friend.”
Chronicle of Higher Education, 3/20/09
“A memoir that honors the man and his works.”
San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/22/09
“An affectionate memoir.”
Library Journal, 4/15/09
“Rackstraw appreciably enhances Vonnegut’s renown with her own interpretation of the events of Vonnegut’s life and with excerpts of his letters spanning four decades…Rackstraw reveals many insights into Vonnegut—his marriages, friendships, sense of the comic and the ridiculous, and melancholy, which later developed into severe depression…Rackstraw’s compelling portrait is recommended."
Daily Iowan, 4/9/09
“A biography of Vonnegut’s life and a more intimate portrait of a man most readers only know through his semiautobiographical fiction.”
“It's interesting to see the struggles of a literary giant through the eyes of a close friend.”
“Rackstraw does not come across as a mercenary, fame-grubbing type.”
Maisonneuve, Spring 2009
“When Kurt Vonnegut said, ‘write to please just one person’ there’s a good chance he meant longtime friend and love interest Loree Rackstraw.”
Cedar Rapids Gazette, 4/12/09
“A major event for Vonnegut lovers…Reveal[s] some interesting details.”
Minneapolis City Pages, 4/16/09
“Reads like a who’s-who of the male, American literary canon of the second half of the 20th century…Aside from the glittering glimpses into the private lives of these literary giants, her memoir…is a study in both relationships that seem to defy easy categorization (like Rackstraw and Vonnegut’s) and the role of the artist in modern society…Rackstraw gives us a rich and complicated Vonnegut.”
Shepherd Express, 4/20/09
“The "tell-all" aspects…are handled with a dignity and old-fashioned discretion.”
“Vonnegut's private correspondence with a student he bedded in the mid-'60s is about to be bared for the first time.”
I didn't know about this lady and I don't care to read the intimate details of their relationship. She tosses out enough hints where I can use my imagination and that is how it should be. I am approximately her age and understand where she is coming from. Most of us brought up in Iowa when she was (I was too) learned to keep private things private.
I recommend this book to any Vonnegut fans who want to read how it all was done. I am now on a quest to find copies of the speeches, articles and essays she mentioned!
This book is not great. It will not put Vonnegut's writings in a whole new light or give you a more profound understanding of the man or his works. What it does is provide 200+ pages of mostly interesting personal background to what was going on in his life at the time he was writing many of his greatest works. The book is generally well-written, and despite the criticism from other reviewers, this is not a tell all of some affair he had or a personal story of the author.
The book provides background, context to some of the personal issues that may have driven Vonnegut's writing. If you can pick it up for a few bucks, it is well worth the read.