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Dan Wakefield Discusses Vonnegut’s “Lasting Charm” in Biographile

The Lasting Charm of Kurt Vonnegut on New Generations of Readers


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Kurt Vonnegut - Lasting Appeal of Vonnegut on New Generations of Readers

Editor’s NoteAuthor and fellow hoosier Dan Wakefield was a longtime friend of Kurt Vonnegut. He edited and introduced Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, as well as the newly released If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?, a collection of quirky, insightful and refreshing commencement speeches Vonnegut has delivered over the years. Dan joins us to reflect on the amazing staying power of Vonnegut’s prose and the lasting appeal of his grouchy charm to new generations of readers. 

Kurt Vonnegut’s humor, honesty, and fresh ways of seeing things have always made him a favorite of young people. I remember back in the late sixties, before Slaughterhouse Five made him rich and famous, college students were carrying around dog-eared copies of Cat’s Cradle, a novel in which he playfully invents a fictitious new religion, foresees a way the world could end, and introduces new words that strike a chord of satiric truth (a “Granfalloon” is a proud and meaningless association of people; examples cited are The Communist Party, The Daughters of the American Revolution, and General Electric.)

Few writers are able — or willing — to take on the most serious issues (e.g.

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Jared Diamond Featured on the Daily Beast

Jared Diamond Talks About His New Book for Young Readers

William O’Connor

 

The author of Guns, Germs, and Steel is out with an adaptation for young people of The Third Chimpanzee. He also has some strong words for his critics.

It turns out the incident of the chimp who tore off his owner’s friend’s face was more family feud than disgruntled pet.

Much like the humans he documents who came to rule Earth, Jared Diamond is out with a new book sure to increase his rule in the classroom. Most students known Diamond from the PBS documentary based on his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Guns, Germs, and Steel.Now, Diamond is out with a new edition of his popular book The Third Chimpanzee, this time adapted “for young people” by Seven Stories Press and Rebecca Stefoff. The book, for those who missed the original, discusses how and why humans evolved differently than did chimpanzees, who differ from us in DNA by only 2 percent.

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The Nation Publishes an Excerpt from “If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?”

The Nation
Published on The Nation

Why You Can’t Stop Me From Speaking Ill of Thomas Jefferson

Kurt Vonnegut | March 26, 2014

Kurt Vonnegut was the celebrated author of novels like Cat’s CradleMother Night and Slaughterhouse-Five. This article was adapted from a speech he made in Indianapolis to the Indiana Civil Liberties Union (now the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana) on September 16, 2000. It appears in the collection If This Isn’t Nice, What Is? Advice to the Young, edited by Dan Wakefield, to be published by Seven Stories Press on April 8.

There is something you are entitled to know about me—something I’m not proud to confess. This is it: I was born into a society as segregated as Biloxi, Mississippi, except for the drinking fountains and the buses. And I am the product of a lily-white public high school in Indianapolis. Shortridge had a faculty worthy of a university.

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