Yes — Kilgore Trout is back again. He could not make it on the outside. That is no disgrace. A lot of good people can't make it on the outside.
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No one can make America into childlike myth like Vonnegut can. Here he takes capitalism, labor history, Sacco-Vanzetti, McCarthyism, and Watergate, and puts them all into the slender memoirs of Walter F. So now old Walter is getting out of minimum-security prison where he has met Vonnegut's Kilgore Trout , without a friend in the world—his wife is dead and his son is "a very unpleasant person.
All this is told in Vonnegut's customary fatless, detail-rich, musical prose with the usual ironic asides: "And on and on," "Peace," "Strong-stuff" , and it's strangely touching, occasionally boldly funny.
But as good as he is at building a haunted, hilariously compressed myth out of our shared past, Vonnegut can't keep it from collapsing into silliness when he tries to propel it into the future; Walter's post-prison adventures are so fairy-tale-ish and theme-heavy that they lose that precariously balanced aura of truer-than-true.
Once in Manhattan, he meets the major people from his past in one coincidence after another, including his old flame and fellow left-winger Mary Kathleen O'Looney, who is now a N.
She's really "the legendary Mrs. So Waiter is suddenly made a corporate bigwig, and, when Mary Kathleen secretly dies, he illegally but well-meaningly keeps the company going. But he has covered much of that ground before—principally in God Bless You, Mr.
Rosewater—and he himself seems to become bored and mechanical halfway through. With humor and insight, Straub creates a family worth rooting for. When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus run over a longtime acquaintance of hers—Barbara Baker, a woman she doesn't like very much—it's only the beginning of the shake-ups to come in her life and the lives of those she loves.
Astrid has been tootling along contentedly in the Hudson Valley town of Clapham, New York, a year-old widow with three grown children. After many years of singlehood since her husband died, she's been quietly seeing Birdie Gonzalez, her hairdresser, for the past two years, and after Barbara's death she determines to tell her children about the relationship: "There was no time to waste, not in this life. There were always more school buses.
Nicky, the youngest Strick, is disconcertingly famous for having appeared in an era-defining movie when he was younger and now lives in Brooklyn with his French wife, Juliette, and their daughter, Cecelia, who's being shipped up to live with Astrid for a while after her friend got mixed up with a pedophile she met online. As always, Straub Modern Lovers , , etc. The cast is realistically diverse, though in most ways it's fairly superficial; the fact that Birdie is Latina or Porter's obstetrician is African American doesn't have much impact on the story or their characters.
Cecelia's new friend, August, wants to make the transition to Robin; that storyline gets more attention, with the two middle schoolers supporting each other through challenging times. The Stricks worry about work, money, sex, and gossip; Straub has a sharp eye for her characters' foibles and the details of their liberal, upper-middle-class milieu.
A daring concept not so daringly developed. Ana is the daughter of Matthias, head scribe to Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee.
She demonstrates an exceptional aptitude for writing, and Matthias, for a time, indulges her with reed pens, papyri, and other 16 C. Her mother disapproves, but her aunt, Yaltha, mentors Ana in the ways of the enlightened women of Alexandria, from whence Yaltha, suspected of murdering her brutal husband, was exiled years before. Yaltha was also forced to give up her daughter, Chaya, for adoption. As Ana reaches puberty, parental tolerance of her nonconformity wanes, outweighed by the imperative to marry her off.
Her adopted brother, Judas—yes, that Judas—is soon disowned for his nonconformity—plotting against Antipas. Their connection deepens after she encounters Jesus in the cave where she is concealing her writings about oppressed women. There, poverty, not sexism, prohibits her from continuing her writing—office supplies are expensive. Problem avoided when, notified by Judas that Antipas is seeking her arrest, she and Yaltha journey to Alexandria in search of Chaya.
Already have an account? Log in. Trouble signing in? Retrieve credentials. Sign Up. Pub Date: Sept. Page Count: Publisher: Delacorte. Review Posted Online: Oct. No Comments Yet. More by Kurt Vonnegut.
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Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut (1979)
The most embarrassing thing to me about this autobiography, surely, is its unbroken chain of proofs that I was never a serious man. I have been in a lot of trouble over the years, but that was all accidental. Never have I risked my life, or even my comfort, in the service of mankind. Shame on me.
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Look Inside. Nothing is spared. This wry tale follows bumbling bureaucrat Walter F. But the humor turns dark when Vonnegut shines his spotlight on the cold hearts and calculated greed of the mighty, giving a razor-sharp edge to an unforgettable portrait of power and politics in our times.