And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life (英語) ハードカバー – 2011/11/8
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A New York Times Notable Book for 2011
A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book for 2011
The first authoritative biography of Kurt Vonnegut Jr., a writer who changed the conversation of American literature.
In 2006, Charles Shields reached out to Kurt Vonnegut in a letter, asking for his endorsement for a planned biography. The first response was no ("A most respectful demurring by me for the excellent writer Charles J. Shields, who offered to be my biographer"). Unwilling to take no for an answer, propelled by a passion for his subject, and already deep into his research, Shields wrote again and this time, to his delight, the answer came back: "O.K." For the next yeara year that ended up being Vonnegut's lastShields had access to Vonnegut and his letters.
And So It Goes is the culmination of five years of research and writingthe first-ever biography of the life of Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut resonates with readers of all generations from the baby boomers who grew up with him to high-school and college students who are discovering his work for the first time. Vonnegut's concise collection of personal essays, Man Without a Country, published in 2006, spent fifteen weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and has sold more than 300,000 copies to date. The twenty-first century has seen interest in and scholarship about Vonnegut's works grow even stronger, and this is the first book to examine in full the life of one of the most influential iconoclasts of his time.
An incisive, gossipy page-turner of a biography. "Janet Maslin, The New York Times" An engaging, surprising and empathetic page-turner "Deirdre Donahue, USA Today" The first truly exacting look into the life of a man who has fascinated so many. "Esquire Magazine" Engaging and well paced, the book fills in the reality behind Vonnegut's work "Christen Aragoni, The American Prospect" This first authorized biography probes both Vonnegut's creative struggles and family life, detailing his transition from the bowery of the book world' to counterculture icon. Shields delivers a vivid recreation of Vonnegut's ghastly WWII experiences as a POW during the Dresden firebombing that became the basis for "Slaughterhouse-Five." . . . Tragedies and triumphs are contrasted throughout, along with an adroit literary analysis that highlights obscure or overlooked influences on Vonnegut. . . . With access to more than 1,500 letters, Shields conducted hundreds of interviews to produce this engrossing, definitive biography. "PW, Starred Review" This book fills a much-needed gap, since very little seems to be known about the late Kurt Vonnegut, despite his immense popularity over almost five decades. Shields did a thorough job, interviewing Vonnegut and his friends and family, and examining many letters. Vonnegut was one of the most influential authors of the late twentieth century, and this biography is essential reading. "Anis Shivani, Huffington Post" Provide[s] a definitive and disturbing account of the late author, whose ambition and talent transformed him from an obscure science fiction writer to a countercultural icon. "Steve Almond, The Boston Globe" [A] thorough and excellent new biography. "Tim Gebhart, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer" The richest portrait of Vonnegut to date. "Craig Fehrman, Indianapolis Monthly" [A] balanced, well-researched study of a flawed yet powerfully imaginative artist. "Ariel Gonzalez, Miami Herald Tribune" A triumphant biography: scrupulously researched and powerfully written, compassionate, clear-eyed and compelling. Charles J. Shields manages a rare feat: offering a lucid assessment of Kurt Vonnegut's literary life alongside the moving tale of an American original and a misunderstood hero. From his harrowing survival of the Dresden firebombing through forty years of culture clashes and domestic battles, here is the Vonnegut we all thought we knew and the man we never got to see, a writer of searing wit and wisdom, of driving ambition, and perhaps most of all, of aching loneliness. "Jess Walker, author of The Financial Lives of the Poets and Citizen Vince" Vonnegut's life was a fascinating tragicomedy worthy of his best novels, and I can hardly imagine a better teller of that tale than Shields. A superbly researched and above all very entertaining biography. "Blake Bailey, author of Cheever: A Life" And So It Goes will entrance lovers of Kurt Vonnegut's fiction. With the blessing of Vonnegut himself and help from scores of Vonnegut's friends, relations, and acquaintances, Charles J. Shields gives us a distinguished, fearless, page-turner of a biography. "Carol Sklenicka, author of Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life" Vonnegut once said that he kept losing and regaining his equilibrium, and Shields dexterously captures the ups and downs of Vonnegut's life and work in this definitive biography. "Henry L. Carrigan, Bookpage""商品の説明をすべて表示する
Overall, something told me this would be a challenging book… ‘And So It Goes’ it was. It was a hard book to put down for sure. All the way around I really got a lot out of this biography; a MUST READ for writers in particular, and anyone else who enjoys what solid storytelling is all about. I love old-school fiction, and loved reading about its derivatives. The best book on writing I've read thus far!
I'll start with bringing up some negatives about the text. On a minor note, there are a few factual errors and inaccurate statements about a couple of Vonnegut's novels. Not a big deal which I am sure will be cleared up in later prints of the book. Of more consequence (to me) was how Mr. Shields inserts his own opinions about Vonnegut's novels occasionally into his examination of them. I don't like this. I am fine with him examining critical receptions and reader responses to the works when they appeared, but his personal thoughts on them should be left alone. It detracts from the objectivity he as the biographer should be trying to create.
However, Mr. Shields shines when he examines Vonnegut's life and the manner in which it found its way into his masterpiece "Slaughterhouse-Five". This part of the text is very well done, as is a lovely section on thoughts about the nature of "art" that Vonnegut shared with his scientist brother Bernard. The conversation is recounted on pages 394-396 of the text and is a highlight. The book also ends with an interesting (and short) history of Vonnegut's ancestors. I am not sure why it ends the book, but it is informative none the less.
On a personal note, if "And So It Goes" and Vonnegut's life feature a villain it is Vonnegut's second wife Jill Krementz. If half of what appears in this text is true (and it is all footnoted in the bibliography) then she was and is a horrible woman who did much to bring despair and pain into Vonnegut's life. The reader will hate her, and be exhausted and troubled by Vonnegut's never washing his hands of her. Mr. Shields never says this, but I get the feeling he was not too fond of her.
As the first authorized biography of Vonnegut (he was working with Shields when he died) "And So It Goes" is an important text. One of the most important writers of the last century deserves a biography, and now finally he has it.
For example: "As often as Vonnegut fulminated about the pernicious effects of big money and big corporations, he opened himself to charges of hypocrisy and getting into bed with him." As another reviewer said, "you get Kurt, warts and all." That's fine, but there is this snarky tone which seems like it's part of some personal feud. I've read biographies of Hemingway and the British actor, Oliver Reed, whose public and private behaviors were far more odious, yet their biographers remained objective. Although I'm no expert it would seem that objectivity is central to biography. Kurt's second wife, Jill, is a nasty bit of business, but here Shields reports just the facts and condemns nothing.