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Deadeye Dick [Kindle Edition]

Kurt Vonnegut
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Rudy Waltz (aka "Deadeye Dick") is the lead in this latter day Vonnegut novel. Waltz, our protagonist, moves through the book trying to make sense of a life that is rife with disaster; there is a double murder, a fatal dose of radioactivity, a decapitation, the total annihilation of a city by nuclear holocaust and, believe it or not, more. Waltz, a diarist, becomes symbolic of a person living a fraught post-technological life in which frailty is as likely to be a person's undoing as any bomb.

Waltz finally reaches the point of resignation; a realization and understanding that there are things that are just beyond our control and understanding that make all human motive, ambition, and circumstance absolutely irrelevant. Waltz's search for meaning leads him ultimately to a kind of resignation which ought not be confused with understanding of any kind, for it is not. It is simple resignation.

It is this theme of Vonnegut's--the impossibility of trying to live meaningfully in a meaningless world--that is ultimately central to this novel. Rudy Waltz (like some of Vonnegut's other protagonists, Billy Pilgrim or Howard Campbell) is ultimately only a stand-in for Vonnegut himself who is really narrating for us as the lead witness and character here--the philosopher who is telling us why and what for.


Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) is one of the most beloved American writers of the twentieth century. Vonnegut's audience increased steadily since his first five pieces in the 1950s and grew from there. His 1968 novel Slaughterhouse-Five has become a canonic war novel with Joseph Heller's Catch-22 to form the truest and darkest of what came from World War II.

Vonnegut began his career as a science fiction writer, and his early novels--Player Piano and The Sirens of Titan--were categorized as such even as they appealed to an audience far beyond the reach of the category. In the 1960s, Vonnegut became closely associated with the Baby Boomer generation, a writer on that side, so to speak.

Now that Vonnegut's work has been studied as a large body of work, it has been more deeply understood and unified. There is a consistency to his satirical insight, humor and anger which makes his work so synergistic. It seems clear that the more of Vonnegut's work you read, the more it resonates and the more you wish to read. Scholars believe that Vonnegut's reputation (like Mark Twain's) will grow steadily through the decades as his work continues to increase in relevance and new connections are formed, new insights made.


Author Kurt Vonnegut is considered by most to be one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. His books Slaughterhouse-Five (named after Vonnegut's World War II POW experience) and Cat's Cradle are considered among his top works. RosettaBooks offers here a complete range of Vonnegut's work, including his first novel (Player Piano, 1952) for readers familiar with Vonnegut's work as well as newcomers.

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Product Description


Rudolph Waltz, native of Midland City, Ohio, has earned himself the notorious nickname of "Deadeye Dick". Until, that is, the "accident" with the neutron bomb.

About the Author

Kurt Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis in 1922 and studied biochemistry at Cornell University. During WWII, as a prisoner of war in Germany, he witnessed the destruction of Dresden by Allied bombers, an experience which inspired Slaughterhouse Five. He died in 2007. (2002-10-18)

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 930 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Publisher: RosettaBooks (21 Aug. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005IQ5H7M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #104,444 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Kurt Vonnegut was a writer, lecturer and painter. He was born in Indianapolis in 1922 and studied biochemistry at Cornell University. During WWII, as a prisoner of war in Germany, he witnessed the destruction of Dresden by Allied bombers, an experience which inspired Slaughterhouse Five. First published in 1950, he went on to write fourteen novels, four plays, and three short story collections, in addition to countless works of short fiction and nonfiction. He died in 2007.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Further insights into the human condition 11 July 2005
By R. B
Kurt Vonnegut's ability to interweave characters and experiences and his ability to quantify throw away events does little to mask his genius. His books should be read in as few sittings as possible if only to ensure a thread of narrative isn't dismissed as superfluous storytelling. In Dead Eye Dick, Kurt explores the loss of innocence. The act that initiates the narrators loss ensures redemption is only a flight of fancy. Kurt's ability to create a perfect narrative arc places the titles main event after the reader has inadvertently judged the main character by the preceding narrative. The double homicide leading to the narrators association with the books title is horrific and tragic in equal measure. Kurt explores the structure of unfortunate associations and out of date political ideals and blends with the act of childish curiosity to rustle up a series of truly unfortunate events. The horrific event has the ability to reach out and change all associated with the main character. Kurt uses pin sharp satire and the blackest of humour across a wide range of supplementary characters and events to illustrate a gamut of sociological and psychological oddities. Each character in the book comes with a complete insight into their character. The characters are inventive and highly individual, opportunities to characterize another viewpoint is never wasted, from the Haitian voodoo priest hotelier to the amphetamine ravaged first love, all come with there stories to tell and lessons to learn. Kurt's books always fill the reader with a sense of optimism, whether it be from gained enlightenment or from the gentle reminders to ensure life does ebb away with the routine actions of every day working life. To ensure we are not living out the epilogue of a great story before the great story was told.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A story of guilt and self-reflection. 18 May 2012
Published in 1982, Deadeye Dick by Kurt Vonnegut tells the story of Rudy Waltz, in a tale of guilt and self-reflection. The tone of it is incredibly quirky. It brought to mind the deliberate, no-nonsense narration in Mark Haddon's 2003 novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - a book narrated by an autistic boy who refuses to use metaphors or similes because he considers them "lies". The tone suggests Rudy's intense detachment from his emotions, and his inability to empathise and deal with the emotions of others. When things seem to get a little too much for Rudy to cope with, he reels off a recipe to the reader as a distraction. The parts of the book which are emotionally charged are literally transformed into a stage play. In a latter part of the novel, for example, Rudy recalls the details of a funeral, but in order to tell it he finds it necessary to script it out the scene with stage directions and notes about scenery, even spending quite a while discussing the logistics of getting a hearse into a theatre and onto a stage.

The core of Deadeye Dick's narrative is hinged around a key moment in which the narrator and protagonist, the aforementioned Rudy Waltz, unwittingly shoots a pregnant woman, killing her and her unborn child. As Rudy observes in the first chapter: "That is my principal objection to life, I think: It's too easy, when alive, to make perfectly horrible mistakes." Because of this horrible mistake, Rudy sees himself from this point as living out the epilogue in the story of his life.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not as original as some of Vonnegut's other work 16 Jan. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Quite an enjoyable read, with some dramatic tension created by Vonnegut's techniques of presenting the plot slightly out of chronological sequence and feeding the reader just enough information to raise more questions about what has happened or is going to happen. Overall, though, it lacks the originality of Timequake, Slaughterhouse Five or Mother Night by the same author, and the obvious Cold War influence makes it feel quite dated now.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Deadeye Dick is a novel only Kurt Vonnegut could have written – quirky, strange, thought-provoking, and a little bit depressing. The story of Deadeye Dick and his family is not a happy one. Rudy Waltz acquires his unusual nickname at the age of twelve by accidentally killing a woman in his hometown, but the whole story starts well before Rudy was even born. His father was supposedly a promising artist, or at least his own mother thought so, but he and his painting tutor did little more than travel around getting drunk and carousing with women of ill repute; after the tutor was exposed as a sham, Otto Waltz went to Austria to study in the years before the Great War; his lack of talent forbade him entry to the Academy, and he developed a friendship with another failed artist who later became chancellor of the Third Reich. This association with Hitler and some of his ideas would come back to haunt Otto in the 1940s. Rudy was Otto’s second son, and on the day when his father bestowed upon him the key to the gun room, Rudy took a rifle up to the top of the cupola at his family’s most unusual residence, fired it randomly, and unknowingly shot a pregnant woman right between the eyes while she was vacuuming – thus did Rudy receive the nickname Deadeye Dick. His father insisted on making a production about how everything was his fault, and life would never be the same again for the dysfunctional Waltz family. They lost everything, and life got little better as Rudy matured. The story of Deadeye Dick and his family goes on to include such events as a decapitation, a death by chimney (it was made of radioactive cement), and the eventual death of everyone in the whole town by way of an accidental neutron bomb explosion. Read more ›
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