This Sunday, November 11th, formerly known in the U.S. as Armistice Day, would have been my favorite writer, Kurt Vonnegut’s 90th birthday. In Charles J. Shields’ 2011 biography of Vonnegut, And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life, he wrote that Vonnegut “was quite proud of being born on a day associated with peace.” A noted and well-known Humanist, that’s the kind of fellow that Kurt Vonnegut struck me as: a peacekeeper.
Vonnegut is best known for his novel Slaughterhouse-Five, the semi-autobiographical story of Billy Pilgrim, who becomes “unstuck in time”, and which reflects the post-traumatic stress of Vonnegut’s personal experience of the bombing of Dresden. But Vonnegut did not just write novels: he was also an essayist, a playwright, and a writer of short stories. His bibliography is quite extensive, and still expanding, and well worth your time, though some works are perhaps more worthwhile than others.
As someone who has made his way through the majority (though not all) of Vonnegut’s work, I have taken it upon myself to curate a list of some of my favorite Vonnegut books that we have here at HCPL in hopes that it will serve as something of a primer and inspiration for those interested in diving deeper into the Vonneverse.
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: or, Pearls Before Swine
Slaughterhouse-Five: or, The Children’s Crusade, a Duty-Dance with Death
Short Stories & Essays:
Welcome to the Monkey House
Look at the Birdie
While Mortals Sleep
A Man Without a Country
Armageddon in Retrospect
We Are What We Pretend to Be: First and Last Works (Released 10/9)
Kurt Vonnegut: Letters edited by Dan Wakefield (Released 10/30)
And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life by Charles Shields