In Unstuck in Time, Gregory Sumner guides us, with insight and passion, through a biography of fifteen of Kurt Vonnegut's best known works, his fourteen novels starting with Player Piano (1952) all the way to an epilogue on his last book, A Man Without a Country (2005), to illustrate the quintessential American writer's profound engagement with the "American Dream" in its various forms. Sumner gives us a poignant portrait of Vonnegut and his resistance to celebrating the traditional values associated with the American Dream: grandiose ambition, unbridled material success, rugged individualism, and "winners" over "losers." Instead of a celebration of these values, we read and share Vonnegut's outrage, his brokenhearted empathy for those who struggle under the ethos of survival-of-the-fittest in the frontier mentality--something he once memorably described as "an impossibly tough-minded experiment in loneliness." Heroic and tragic, Vonnegut's novels reflect the pain of his own life's experiences, relieved by small acts of kindness, friendship, and love that exemplify another way of living, another sort of human utopia, an alternative American Dream, and the reason we always return to his books.
Since its original publication in 1968, Welcome to the Monkey House has been one of Kurt Vonnegut’s most beloved works. This special edition celebrates a true master of the short-story form by including multiple variant drafts of what would eventually be the title story. In a fascinating accompanying essay, “Building the Monkey House: At Kurt Vonnegut’s Writing Table,” noted Vonnegut scholar Gregory D. Sumner walks readers through Vonnegut’s process as the author struggles--false start after false start--to hit upon what would be one of his greatest stories. The result is the rare chance to watch a great writer hone his craft in real time.
Praise for Kurt Vonnegut
“Kurt Vonnegut is, in my view, the great, urgent passionate American writer of our century.”--George Saunders
“Vonnegut’s fiction itches to seize the human truth by its large handles.”--John Updike
From the Trade Paperback edition.