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God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkianby Kurt Vonnegut
Synopses & Reviews
Kurt Vonnegut is the real deal, a true American master. During his peak years — roughly Kennedy through Reagan — his imaginative, biting, hilarious, and deeply humane novels made him one of the best loved and bestselling novelists of the era. His masterpiece, Slaughterhouse-Five, was number 18 on the Modern Library's list of the 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century, and number 23 on their alternative readers' list. His most recent book, God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian, began as a series of 90 second shorts on New York City's public radio station, WNYC. Vonnegut put aside fiction in order to try his hand at journalism. He travels to heaven, with the help of Dr. Kevorkian's famous needle, to do a series of interviews with dead people, some famous, some not. Okay, so he hasn't exactly given up fiction — but who cares? These "interviews" with the likes of Shakespeare, John Brown, Clarence Darrow, Mary Wallstonecraft Shelley, Isaac Asimov, and others, are something better than factual. They are sharp, wise, playful, dead serious, and often, quite funny. What would you expect from the "closest thing we have to a living heir to Mark Twain." Martin, Powells.com
In what began as a series of quirkily characteristic ninety-second interludes for New York's public radio station, Kurt Vonnegut asks, on behalf of us all, the Big Questions. Could death be a quality? A place? Not an ending but an occurrence that changes those to whom it happens?
As a "reporter on the afterlife," Vonnegut bravely allows himself to be strapped to a gurney by his friend Jack Kevorkian and dispatched round-trip to the Pearly Gates. Or at least that's what he claims in the introduction to these thirty-odd comic and irreverent "interviews" with the likes of William Shakespeare, Adolf Hitler, and Clarence Darrow, bringing readers to an entirely new place?a place to which only Vonnegut could bring us.
"Vonnegut is one of the best living American writers." Graham Greene
"Vonnegut is our strongest writer...the most stubbornly imaginative." John Irving
"Vonnegut devotees will love this little book, and I'm sure anyone else with a sense of humor and the desire to fulfill his or her 'right to know' will enjoy it as well....A tidy smorgasbord of ficto-journalism and journo-fictionalism and various other forms of writing that deftly defy classification." Providence Sunday Journal
From Slapstick's "Turkey Farm" to Slaughterhouse-Five's eternity in a Tralfamadorean zoo cage with Montana Wildhack, the question of the afterlife never left Kurt Vonnegut's mind. In God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian, Vonnegut skips back and forth between life and the Afterlife as if the difference between them were rather slight. In thirty odd "interviews," Vonnegut trips down "the blue tunnel to the pearly gates" in the guise of a roving reporter for public radio, conducting interviews: with Salvatore Biagini, a retired construction worker who died of a heart attack while rescuing his schnauzer from a pit bull, with John Brown, still smoldering 140 years after his death by hanging, with William Shakespeare, who rubs Vonnegut the wrong way, and with socialist and labor leader Eugene Victor Debs, one of Vonnegut's personal heroes.
What began as a series of ninety-second radio interludes for WNYC, New York City's public radio station, evolved into this provocative collection of musings about who and what we live for, and how much it all matters in the end. From the original portrait by his friend Jules Feiffer that graces the cover, to a final entry from Kilgore Trout, God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian remains a joy.
All the qualities that make Vonnegut an inimitable voice permeate this book of 30+ vignettes. His "interviews" in this humorous look at death are with such late luminaries as Sir Isaac Newton, Clarence Darrow, and William Shakespeare.
About the Author
Kurt Vonnegut is among the few grandmasters of 20th century American letters, one without whom the very term American literature would mean much less than it does. His works include Slaughterhouse Five, Galapagos, and Welcome to the Monkey House. He is the author, most recently, of God Bless You Dr. Kevorkian.
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