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After spending almost two years at the writer's workshop at the University of Iowa , teaching one course each term, Vonnegut was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for research in Germany. By the time he won it, in March , he was becoming a well-known writer.
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He used the funds to travel in Eastern Europe, including to Dresden, where he found many prominent buildings still in ruins. At the time of the bombing, Vonnegut had not appreciated the sheer scale of destruction in Dresden; his enlightenment came only slowly as information dribbled out, and based on early figures he came to believe that , had died there. Vonnegut had been writing about his war experiences at Dresden ever since he returned from the war, but had never been able to write anything acceptable to himself or his publishers—Chapter 1 of Slaughterhouse-Five tells of his difficulties.
The story is told in a non-linear fashion, with many of the story's climaxes—Billy's death in , his kidnapping by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore nine years earlier, and the execution of Billy's friend Edgar Derby in the ashes of Dresden for stealing a teapot—disclosed in the story's first pages. His novels have attacked our deepest fears of automation and the bomb, our deepest political guilts, our fiercest hatreds and loves. No one else writes books on these subjects; they are inaccessible to normal novelists.
Vonnegut's earlier works had appealed strongly to many college students, and the antiwar message of Slaughterhouse-Five resonated with a generation marked by the Vietnam War. He later stated that the loss of confidence in government that Vietnam caused finally allowed for an honest conversation regarding events like Dresden. After Slaughterhouse-Five was published, Vonnegut embraced the fame and financial security that attended its release.
He was hailed as a hero of the burgeoning anti-war movement in the United States, was invited to speak at numerous rallies, and gave college commencement addresses around the country.
Receiving mixed reviews, it closed on March 14, In , Universal Pictures adapted Slaughterhouse-Five into a film which the author said was "flawless". Meanwhile, Vonnegut's personal life was disintegrating. His wife Jane had embraced Christianity, which was contrary to Vonnegut's atheistic beliefs, and with five of their six children having left home, Vonnegut said the two were forced to find "other sorts of seemingly important work to do".
The couple battled over their differing beliefs until Vonnegut moved from their Cape Cod home to New York in Vonnegut called the disagreements "painful", and said the resulting split was a "terrible, unavoidable accident that we were ill-equipped to understand. When he stopped taking the drug in the mids, he began to see a psychologist weekly. When the last living thing has died on account of us, how poetical it would be if Earth could say, in a voice floating up perhaps from the floor of the Grand Canyon, "It is done.
Vonnegut's difficulties materialized in numerous ways; most distinctly though, was the painfully slow progress he was making on his next novel, the darkly comical Breakfast of Champions. In , Vonnegut stopped writing the novel altogether. In Thomas S. Hischak's book American Literature on Stage and Screen , Breakfast of Champions was called "funny and outlandish", but reviewers noted that it "lacks substance and seems to be an exercise in literary playfulness.
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In The New York Times 's review of Slapstick , Christopher Lehmann-Haupt said Vonnegut "seems to be putting less effort into [storytelling] than ever before", and that "it still seems as if he has given up storytelling after all. In , Vonnegut married Jill Krementz , a photographer whom he met while she was working on a series about writers in the early s.
With Jill, he adopted a daughter, Lily, when the baby was three days old. The lying bastards! Vonnegut was 84 years old. When asked about the impact Vonnegut had on his work, author Josip Novakovich stated that he has "much to learn from Vonnegut—how to compress things and yet not compromise them, how to digress into history, quote from various historical accounts, and not stifle the narrative. The ease with which he writes is sheerly masterly, Mozartian. Vonnegut has inspired numerous posthumous tributes and works.
The Library of America published a compendium of Vonnegut's compositions between and the following April, and another compendium of his earlier works in Shields 's And So It Goes. According to The Guardian , the book portrays Vonnegut as distant, cruel and nasty. Vonnegut's works have evoked ire on several occasions. His most prominent novel, Slaughterhouse-Five , has been objected to or removed at various institutions in at least 18 instances.
Pico , the United States Supreme Court ruled that a school district's ban on Slaughterhouse-Five —which the board had called "anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, and just plain filthy"—and eight other novels was unconstitutional. When a school board in Republic, Missouri decided to withdraw Vonnegut's novel from its libraries, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library offered a free copy to all the students of the district.
Tally, writing in , suggests that Vonnegut has only recently become the subject of serious study rather than fan adulation, and much is yet to be written about him.
We know he's worth reading. Now tell us things we don't know. Davis notes that Vonnegut's work is kept alive by his loyal readers, who have "significant influence as they continue to purchase Vonnegut's work, passing it on to subsequent generations and keeping his entire canon in print—an impressive list of more than twenty books that [Dell Publishing] has continued to refurbish and hawk with new cover designs.
Morse notes that Vonnegut, "is now firmly, if somewhat controversially, ensconced in the American and world literary canon as well as in high school, college and graduate curricula". Vonnegut's 14 novels, while each does its own thing, together are nevertheless experiments in the same overall project.
Experimenting with the form of the American novel itself, Vonnegut engages in a broadly modernist attempt to apprehend and depict the fragmented, unstable, and distressing bizarreries of postmodern American experience That he does not actually succeed in representing the shifting multiplicities of that social experience is beside the point.
What matters is the attempt, and the recognition that The asteroid Vonnegut is named in his honor. In the introduction to Slaughterhouse-Five Vonnegut recounts meeting filmmaker Harrison Starr at a party who asked him whether his forthcoming book was an anti-war novel — "I guess" replied Vonnegut.
Starr responded "Why don't you write an anti-glacier novel? This underlined Vonnegut's belief that wars were, unfortunately, inevitable, but that it was important to ensure the wars one fought were just wars. In , NPR wrote, "Kurt Vonnegut's blend of anti-war sentiment and satire made him one of the most popular writers of the s. Bush administration led him to write A Man Without a Country. Slaughterhouse-Five is the Vonnegut novel best known for its antiwar themes, but the author expressed his beliefs in ways beyond the depiction of the destruction of Dresden.
One character, Mary O'Hare, opines that "wars were partly encouraged by books and movies", made by " Frank Sinatra or John Wayne or some of those other glamorous, war-loving, dirty old men". Nuclear war , or at least deployed nuclear arms , is mentioned in almost all of Vonnegut's novels. In Player Piano , the computer EPICAC is given control of the nuclear arsenal, and is charged with deciding whether to use high-explosive or nuclear arms. In Cat's Cradle , John's original purpose in setting pen to paper was to write an account of what prominent Americans had been doing as Hiroshima was bombed.
Kevorkian , Vonnegut was an atheist and a humanist , serving as the honorary president of the American Humanist Association.
In his autobiographical work Palm Sunday , Vonnegut says he is a "Christ-worshipping agnostic";  in a speech to the Unitarian Universalist Association , he called himself a "Christ-loving atheist". However, he was keen to stress that he was not a Christian. Vonnegut was an admirer of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount , particularly the Beatitudes , and incorporated it into his own doctrines. He despised the televangelists of the late 20th century, feeling that their thinking was narrow-minded.
Religion features frequently in Vonnegut's work, both in his novels and elsewhere. He laced a number of his speeches with religion-focused rhetoric,   and was prone to using such expressions as "God forbid" and "thank God". Kevorkian , Vonnegut goes to heaven after he is euthanized by Dr.
Jack Kevorkian. Once in heaven, he interviews 21 deceased celebrities, including Isaac Asimov , William Shakespeare , and Kilgore Trout —the last a fictional character from several of his novels. Slaughterhouse-Five sees Billy Pilgrim, lacking religion himself, nevertheless become a chaplain's assistant in the military and display a large crucifix on his bedroom wall.
Vonnegut did not particularly sympathize with liberalism or conservatism , and mused on the specious simplicity of American politics, saying facetiously, "If you want to take my guns away from me, and you're all for murdering fetuses, and love it when homosexuals marry each other If you are against those perversions and for the rich, you're a conservative. What could be simpler? The people don't acknowledge this.
Why Are You So Sad?: A Novel (Unabridged)
They claim membership in two imaginary parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, instead. Vonnegut disregarded more mainstream political ideologies in favor of socialism , which he thought could provide a valuable substitute for what he saw as social Darwinism and a spirit of " survival of the fittest " in American society,  believing that "socialism would be a good for the common man".
Debs : "As long as there is a lower class, I am in it. As long as there is a criminal element, I'm of it. As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
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Vonnegut's writing was inspired by an eclectic mix of sources. When he was younger, Vonnegut stated that he read works of pulp fiction , science fiction, fantasy, and action-adventure. He also read the classics , such as the plays of Aristophanes —like Vonnegut's works, humorous critiques of contemporary society. Both shared pessimistic outlooks on humanity, and a skeptical take on religion, and, as Vonnegut put it, were both "associated with the enemy in a major war", as Twain briefly enlisted in the South's cause during the American Civil War , and Vonnegut's German name and ancestry connected him with the United States' enemy in both world wars.
Vonnegut called George Orwell his favorite writer, and admitted that he tried to emulate Orwell. Vonnegut commented that Robert Louis Stevenson 's stories were emblems of thoughtfully put together works that he tried to mimic in his own compositions. She took short-story courses at night. She studied magazines the way gamblers study racing forms. Early on in his career, Vonnegut decided to model his style after Henry David Thoreau , who wrote as if from the perspective of a child, allowing Thoreau's works to be more widely comprehensible. Wells , and satirist Jonathan Swift.
Vonnegut credited American journalist and critic H. Mencken for inspiring him to become a journalist. Sharp describes Vonnegut's linguistic style as straightforward; his sentences concise, his language simple, his paragraphs brief, and his ordinary tone conversational.
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