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Vonnegut Kurt


Оценка: 4.7 (40)
Genre: fantasy
No one can make America into childlike myth like Vonnegut can. Here he takes capitalism, labor history, Sacco-Vanzetti, McCarthyism, and Watergate, and puts them all into the slender memoirs of Walter F. Starbuck - a chauffeur's son who was mentored by the scion of a great and ruthless corporation, was sent to Harvard, but was abandoned when he was caught dabbling in the 1930s left-wing; which meant that Walter had to make his own way as a WW II soldier, Washington civil servant, unintentional stoolie in a Hiss/Chambers-type case, unemployed husband (his concentration-camp-survivor wife supported them with interior decorating), and finally Nixon's token 'advisor for youth affairs' and a very minor Watergate convict. So now old Walter is getting out of minimum-security prison (where he has met Vonnegut's Kilgore Trout), without a friend in the world - his wife is dead and his son is 'a very unpleasant person. . . a book reviewer for The New York Times' - and with hopes of becoming a bartender somewhere in Manhattan. All this is told in Vonnegut's customary fatless, detail-rich, musical prose (with the usual ironic asides: 'And on and on,' 'Peace,' 'Strong stuff'), and it's strangely touching, occasionally boldly funny. But as good as he is at building a haunted, hilariously compressed myth out of our shared past, Vonnegut can't keep it from collapsing into silliness when he tries to propel it into the future; Walter's post-prison adventures are so fairy-tale-ish and theme-heavy that they lose that precariously balanced aura of truer-than-true. Once in Manhattan, he meets the major people from his past in one coincidence after another, including his old flame and fellow left-winger Mary Kathleen O'Looney, who is now a N.Y. shopping-bag lady living beneath Grand Central Station - but is she really a bag lady? No! She's really 'the legendary Mrs. Jack Graham,' neverseen majority stockholder in the all-powerful RAMJAC Corporation. So Walter is suddenly made a corporate bigwig, and, when Mary Kathleen secretly dies, he illegally (but well-meaningly) keeps the company going. . . and winds up a jailbird again. Rich/poor, honest/criminal, management/labor - Vonnegut is playfully exploring the ease with which an American Everyman can alternate between these ostensible extremes. But he has covered much of that ground before - principally in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater - and he himself seems to become bored and mechanical halfway through. Not top-drawer Vonnegut, then, but guilty/innocent Walter is a fine creation, and there's enough of the author's narrative zip to keep fans happy even while the novel fizzles into foolishness. (Kirkus Reviews)
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This is a great novel, laying bare , with humour and inventiveness, the terror of America's Stalinist/anti-Stalinist era. There is a synopsis above so I won't bother with that. I wept for Sacco/ Vanzetti and the overall asinine mentality , richly portrayed , of McCarthyism. Yes there are some of the usual suspects, but any Vonnegut reader loves that . This isn't Slaughter House 5 , a masterpiece , but is Kurt doing Kurt wonderfully and profoundly , on the domestic front when the U.S. was morally lost again. .............. I'm Canadian so know Americans not big fans of this particular Vonnegut . It hits where it hurts. It hits home. But , like mark twain , with a twinkle in his eye and a frown 'neath mustache. A terrific and important read . Almost surprised he wasn't crucified for his honesty about America.... honest yet clever enough to fool the fools .

Оценка 5 из 5 звёзд от R.D. Milne 04.02.2015 15:54  

Всего обзоров: 1
Средний рейтинг 4.7 из 5

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