Kurt Vonnegut: Armageddon in Retrospect

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Vonnegut, Kurt. Armageddon in Retrospect (New York: Putnam, 2008)

Consisting of a thirteen previously unpublished pieces, Armageddon in Retrospect is the first Vonnegut collection to appear since his death last Spring. This is only the third of his books I've read (A Man without a Country and Slaughterhouse-Five being the other two), so I can't claim to be an expert on Vonnegut's writings. Armageddon in Retrospect is an interesting book, but not an essential one.

The book leads off with Vonnegut's first letter home after his POW experiences in Dresden, followed by a commencement address from 2007. The remaining eleven pieces are short stories that deal with various aspects of war and the bellicose mentality. While Armageddon in Retrospect is enjoyable, I didn't find any of the selections compelling enough that their absence from his published oeuvre would have constituted a great loss. The following sentiment, though, is as fitting a capstone for Vonnegut's career as any:

Where do I get my ideas from? You might as well have asked that of Beethoven. He was goofing around in Germany like everybody else, and all of a sudden this stuff came gushing out of him.
It was music.
I was goofing around like everybody else in Indiana, and all of a sudden stuff came gushing out. It was disgust with civilization. (p. 233)

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on July 26, 2008 1:38 PM.

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