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And So It Goes

Kurt Vonnegut, A Life
Shields, Charles J., 1951- (Book - 2011 )
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
And So It Goes


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An authorized portrait of the influential twentieth-century American writer draws on first-person accounts and Vonnegut's private letters while offering insight into his youth, the inspirations for his work, and his enduring literary impact.
Authors: Shields, Charles J., 1951-
Statement of Responsibility: Charles J. Shields
Title: And so it goes
Kurt Vonnegut, a life
Publisher: New York, N.Y. :, Henry Holt and Co.,, 2011
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: xii, 513 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm.
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Report This Jul 08, 2012
  • derekwolfgram rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

And So It Goes is a meticulously researched, comprehensive biography of my favorite author. Without the hero worship of many biographies, Charles Shields balances the many contradictions in Vonnegut's life. While Shields tends to give Vonnegut a pass on most of his literary missteps, chalking them up to critics' failure to understand his technique or motivation, he does not paint nearly as positive a picture of Kurt's personal life. His self centered-ness in personal relationships with his wives, daughters, and lovers, as well as business relationships with agents and publishers, are portrayed as shockingly callous for a man who preached the gospel of kindness. Despite over 50 pages of endnotes, there are still factual errors - Shields refers to Mayor John Hickenlooper of Denver (now Colorado Governor) as the son of one of Vonnegut's fellow Dresden POWs, when in fact Hickenlooper's father was a fraternity brother of Vonnegut at Cornell. While this detail is minor, it makes me wonder how many other unsupported statements are included. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this trip though Vonnegut's life and am certainly inspired to go back and re-read several of Vonnegut's classic novels with the historical context of his life in mind.

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