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And So It Goes Hardcover – 12 Dec 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt & Company (12 Dec. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805086935
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805086935
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 4.3 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 519,609 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"An incisive, gossipy page-turner of a biography." -Janet Maslin, "The New York Times""An engaging, surprising and empathetic page-turner"-- Deirdre Donahue, "USA Today""The first truly exacting look into the life of a man who has fascinated so many."--"Esquire Magazine""Engaging and well paced, the book fills in the reality behind Vonnegut's work"--Christen Aragoni, "The American Prospect""This first authorized biography probes both Vonnegut's creative struggles and family life, detailing his transition from 'the bowery of the book world' to counterculture icon. Shields delivers a vivid recreation of Vonnegut's ghastly WWII experiences as a POW during the Dresden firebombing that became the basis for "Slaughterhouse-Five." . . . Tragedies and triumphs are contrasted throughout, along with an adroit literary analysis that highlights obscure or overlooked influences on Vonnegut. . . . With access to more than 1,500 letters, Shields conducted hundreds of interviews to produce this engrossing, definitive biography."--"PW," Starred Review"This book fills a much-needed gap, since very little seems to be known about the late Kurt Vonnegut, despite his immense popularity over almost five decades. Shields did a thorough job, interviewing Vonnegut and his friends and family, and examining many letters. Vonnegut was one of the most influential authors of the late twentieth century, and this biography is essential reading."--Anis Shivani, "Huffington Post""Provide[s] a definitive and disturbing account of the late author, whose ambition and talent transformed him from an obscure science fiction writer to a countercultural icon."--Steve Almond, "The Boston Globe""[A] thorough and excellent new biography." - Tim Gebhart, "The Seattle Post-Intelligencer""The richest portrait of Vonnegut to date."--Craig Fehrman, "Indianapolis Monthly""[A] balanced, well-researched study of a flawed yet powerfully imaginative artist."--Ariel Gonzalez, "Miami Herald Tribune""A triumphant biography: scrupulously researched and powerfully written, compassionate, clear-eyed and compelling. Charles J. Shields manages a rare feat: offering a lucid assessment of Kurt Vonnegut's literary life alongside the moving tale of an American original and a misunderstood hero. From his harrowing survival of the Dresden firebombing through forty years of culture clashes and domestic battles, here is the Vonnegut we all thought we knew and the man we never got to see, a writer of searing wit and wisdom, of driving ambition, and perhaps most of all, of aching loneliness."--Jess Walker, author of "The Financial Lives of the Poets" and "Citizen Vince""Vonnegut's life was a fascinating tragicomedy worthy of his best novels, and I can hardly imagine a better teller of that tale than Shields. A superbly researched and above all very entertaining biography."--Blake Bailey, author of "Cheever: A Life""And So It Goes will entrance lovers of Kurt Vonnegut's fiction. With the blessing of Vonnegut himself and help from scores of Vonnegut's friends, relations, and acquaintances, Charles J. Shields gives us a distinguished, fearless, page-turner of a biography.--Carol Sklenicka, author of "Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life""Vonnegut once said that he kept losing and regaining his equilibrium, and Shields dexterously captures the ups and downs of Vonnegut's life and work in this definitive biography."--Henry L. Carrigan, "Bookpage"

About the Author

Charles J. Shields is the author of "And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life," "Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee," the highly acclaimed, bestselling biography of Harper Lee, and "I Am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee" (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers). He grew up in the Midwest and taught in a rural school in central Illinois for several years. He has been a reporter for public radio, a journalist, and the author of nonfiction books for young people. He and his wife live near Charlottesville, Virginia.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Archy on 8 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's easy to confuse criticism of a biography with criticism of its subject. And Kurt Vonnegut doesn't come over as the kind hearted socialist that was often his persona. But didn't he himself say that he was a work of fiction? He does, however, come over as a flawed but talented, complex, rather melancholic and lonely man. He was often well-intentioned - not many people with three children and struggling financially would take in four more in the circumstances Vonnegut did - but equally often unable to meet the requirements of a real family life, and this contradiction is at the heart of the book.

I found it a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining read, even if some of the revelations about the man were eye-openers. But he was a flawed human being, not the wise guru he was often painted - by fans probably too young to know better. In his place, I too would have got frustrated, trying to write for a living in a house with seven children. It's a shame that Vonnegut's second wife did not contribute to the book, and it's true that - as another reviewer has pointed out - she seems to suffer an awful lot of put-downs. (But maybe she was really like that??) I'm also surprised at the way Timequake is disparaged - like the other reviewer, I really liked this book!

It's obviously a must for Vonnegut fans, but bear in mind that you're reading about a real individual who suffered traumas most readers are not likely to experience; the 1960s/70s counterculture icon was not the real person.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stephen J. Gagen on 20 Feb. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have loved Kurt's writing since I first read Cat's Cradle and the Sirens of Titan in the early 60s, when I was a teenager. Like others, I bought this book because I wanted to know more about Kurt himself. I have admired his writing, recommended it to others, and quoted from it for the past 50 years. And So It Goes - one of my favourite quotations from Kurt's books (along with Poo-tee-weet) does not disappoint me. It is a well-crafted autobiography - Charles Shields got his subject's permission and cooperation, but was thwarted by his untimely death and the intransigence of his family. He has researched his subject well, and produced an ejnoyable and authoritative biography. Of course, the book saddens me: while I was falling in love with Kurt's wrtings, he was despising himself and busily alienating those who tried to love him. So many creative people have a streak of self-loathing running through them, it seems. For those who are interested, reading this book will be as close to Kurt Vonnegut's soul as you're likely to get.
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Format: Paperback
As I had hoped, this biography contained an anecdote conforming exactly to the image I had of KV having been a fan for 25 years. So far so good. But on page 375 of a 415 page book? And only one? Yep, that's the problem - KV was not very nice after all.

Charles Shields is a brilliant writer and researcher, and he rightly does not spare us his discoveries, not so much "warts and all", more just the "warts".

So, while I admire Shields' dedication to accuracy and truth as well as his own engaging style, I have found myself wondering if I might have been better not reading this at all. I still admire KV's work but the affection has gone.

Th 4-stars are for the quality of the biography, not this reader's experience!
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