New York Times best-selling author and biographer Charles J. Shields crafts this fascinating portrait of literary icon Kurt Vonnegut. The first authorized biography of the influential American writer, And So It Goes examines Vonnegut’s life, from his childhood to his death in 2007, and explores how the author changed the conversation of American literature.
©2011 Charles J. Shields (P)2011 Recorded Books, LLC
This book is a well written, exceptionally researched, in-depth, and informative look at the life and writings of Kurt Vonnegut. The book moves through Vonnegut's life in chronological order, moving from childhood to death and recounts the changes in Vonnegut's life and fortune that shaped his life, his writing, and his legacy. Citing primary documents, letters, interviews, and Vonnegut's own writings, the author paints a very real and highly tangible representation of what life was like for Kurt Vonnegut. We are taken through a youth in Indiana, a soldier in World War II, a writer having a hard time getting published, a teacher at Iowa, and finally long awaited recognition and financial stability.
This is a great book for fans of Vonnegut's writing. There is much to be gleamed from Vonnegut's motivations, thoughts on craft and his ideas on the world.
For listeners interested in Vonnegut's life and work this is a good reading of the biography. However, the author seems to believe that he could have run Vonnegut's life far better than Vonnegut himself. That Vonnegut does not always live up to his ideals is not surprising, but the book seems to focus on Vonnegut disappointing his friends, family and himself year after year. Vonnegut's son Mark said that his father was not the bitter young man who evolves into the bitter lonely man portrayed in the book and that Shield's book does not reflect Vonnegut's true life and nature. I agree.
I've listened to a fair number of audio books, and this was the first one where I could hear the narrator take very loud audible breaths in between sentences, almost as it to alert you that a new sentence was starting. I found this very distracting. Even odder was the fact that that this was inconsistent throughout the narration. It came and went, almost as if this sort of thing is cleaned up digitally before releasing the recording and whoever was cleaning it up missed huge sections. Or the producer used different microphone equipment for different sessions. I don't know what goes on behind the scenes, but this was highly annoying to listen to.
Vonnegut is very different from the public persona he created over the decades. He was, in fact, a miserable man who seemed to enjoy making people around him miserable as well. Not a particularly fun book to read, but being a huge Vonnegut fan, I'm still glad I read it.
only if someone wanted every detail of this writer's life
the latter years because I knew some of the people involved
order shorter books, especially biographies
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