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Kurt Vonnegut (Last Interview) Paperback – 9 Feb 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: MELVILLE HOUSE PUBLISHING (9 Feb. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612190901
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612190907
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.3 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 400,374 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Emeka Njodi on 4 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback
If you like Vonnegut, you'll love this. He's candid nature and complete and total lack of pretence are a breath of fresh air. It's a super quick read but any opportunity to read Kurt is one worth taking. A joy.
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2 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Noel Falconer on 12 Jan. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I haven't read this - yet - but I rate Vonnegut heavens-high; dead and gone, he still could be the best President for the Evil Empire.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 11 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Six interesting but redundant interviews 16 Jan. 2012
By TChris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Kurt Vonnegut's last interview was fairly short, not nearly long enough to fill a book. It is joined in this volume with five other interviews that span thirty years. Not surprisingly, this leads to some redundancy; Vonnegut liked to tell the same stories and interviewers tended to ask the same questions (who wouldn't, after all, want to ask Vonnegut about the firebombing of Dresden?). Vonnegut discusses his family in nearly every interview; at least four times we hear that his brother patented the process for making rain with silver iodide. On the other hand, we hear almost nothing about the bulk of his fiction, an omission I found disappointing.

The first interview is actually a compilation of four separate interviews that were cobbled together by Vonnegut himself and published in The Paris Review in 1977. Vonnegut talks about his service in World War II, his imprisonment by the Germans in Dresden, and, in general terms, his writing. My favorite quotation from that interview (responding to critics who considered him "barbarous" because he studied chemistry and anthropology rather than classic literature): "I think it can be tremendously refreshing if a creator of literature has something on his mind other than the history of literature so far."

The second interview was published in The Nation in 1980. It focuses on the firebombing of Dresden (the subject of Slaughterhouse-Five) and on nuclear weapons (featured in Cat's Cradle). Vonnegut's most interesting thought concerns his belief that most people lack enthusiasm for life.

A Playboy interview from 1992 -- the best in the book and the most overtly political -- pairs Vonnegut with Joseph Heller. The discussion is wide ranging and features a fair amount of literary (and non-literary) name dropping. Heller and Vonnegut were both World War II veterans; Vonnegut makes some interesting points about the difference between that war and the bombing in the first Iraq war (including the observation that WWII soldiers hoped they didn't have to kill anyone while modern bomb droppers tend to have no such qualms). Here's Vonnegut on censorship and the First Amendment, a statement I applaud: "your government is not here to keep you from having your feelings hurt."

A 2006 interview from Stop Smiling is notable for Vonnegut's discussion of the artwork he did in collaboration with Joe Petro (he saw it as "protesting the meaninglessness in life"). It also updates his political thinking (suffice it to say that he wasn't optimistic about the direction in which the country was moving). Vonnegut saw the extended family as a solution to the nation's problems, but given the impracticality of the extended family in modern America, he advocated having fun. His most telling statement: "I've said everything I want to say and I'm embarrassed to have lived this long."

A condensation of four interviews between 2000 and 2007 (the last a month before his death) is more of the same, but I was struck by how such a big-hearted man, so in love with people despite his continual disappointment in their actions, was so gloomy about his own existence. In a comment worthy of Mark Twain (with whom he had much in common), Vonnegut said: "As you may know, I'm suing a cigarette company because their product hasn't killed me yet."

The final interview, two months before Vonnegut's 2007 death, appeared in In These Times, for which Vonnegut occasionally wrote. Vonnegut was not well; consequently, the interview is very brief. He discusses religion (Vonnegut was a humanist who came from a family of freethinkers) and politics, including a very funny letter he wrote to Iraq describing the path it should follow on the way to becoming a democracy.

Vonnegut was a national treasure. His fans will surely enjoy these interviews, but those who are looking for insight into his thinking beyond his novels might want to pick up his various books of essays, which capture his worldview in greater depth, including his last, A Man Without a Country.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
"I propose that every person out of work be required to submit a book report before he or she gets his or her welfare check." 20 Jan. 2012
By Ella - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Six interviews with Vonnegut, in chronological order. The last interview is rather quick, at around three pages. The interviews touch on his views of other writers, education, war, politics, religion, and his take on humanity.

The interviews were full of Vonnegut's wit, and very amusing to read. Generally I find author interviews disappointing as their works tend to greatly outshine some random Q&A sessions. Happily, this was not the case here, and instead the interviews read more like little raw bits of Vonnegut. My favorite interview was a Playboy one also with Joseph Heller, in which their conversation covers many topics and drops many names. With a bit of time between the rereadings, I'd say the interviews are indeed rereadable. I found that the interviews deepened my appreciation for Vonnegut, and I'll have to go read some now. As lovely as the interviews were, they tended to be rather repetitive in content and questioning. Questioning on most of his work, besides Slaughterhouse Five, would have been nice.

If you enjoy Vonnegut, you'll enjoy his interviews.

I received an electronic copy from the publisher, Melville House, via NetGalley.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Classic Vonnegut, though you may have heard it before... 4 Sept. 2012
By ewomack - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Most people know that the curmudgeonly fatalistic Kurt Vonnegut was one of the most popular fiction writers of the 20th century. Many may not know that he also gave unforgettable interviews. Often these interviews borrowed from his essays, speeches and novels, but they nearly always came across with the same voice, cuttingly sardonic yet genuinely concerned about the strange race of beings he found himself thrust into.

Sadly, Vonnegut passed away in 2007. Though he himself may not have added "sadly," as this somewhat morbidly titled collection, "The Last Interview," reveals. It spans some thirty years of time and by the 2007 interviews Vonnegut seems almost bitter about still counting himself amongst the living, saying that he's "embarrassed to have lived this long." Though, as anyone who has heard enough of his speeches and interviews knows, he never seemed to mind delving right into macabre topics such as suicide, death and the fate of the human race. As such, this collection ends on a rather sad note.

The first interview dates back to 1977 and reads almost like something out of "Welcome to the Monkey House." By the end we discover a surprise interviewer who reveals himself "Breakfast of Champions" style. This interview covers a lot of usual Vonnegut ground: World War II, "Slaughterhouse Five," Vonnegut's youth, writing as trade, science, how lousy "Slapstick" was, the (least) funniest jokes ever created, and numerous other tidbits. It also happens to contain one of his most harrowing and unforgettable descriptions of his time at Dresden, which he also calls "the fastest killing of large numbers of people - one hundred and thirty-five thousand people in a matter of hours." The following interview with Robert Musil from 1980 covers much of the same ground, though with an interesting observation on "Dr. Strangelove" and a sneak peek at his then latest novel "Deadeye Dick."

Time warp then to 1992 and eavesdrop in on a conversation with Vonnegut and Joseph Heller that appeared in Playboy. Their more than interesting relationship comes to live in this unique three-way interview. Their stories even contradict at times. One interesting passage involves Vonnegut claiming to have written a screenplay with Steven Wright (a quick web search reveals that the project eventually fizzled). And the interviewer gets personal about intimate topics that makes Vonnegut cry out "my goodness!" In the end, Heller and Vonnegut seem to share a fundamentally pessimistic view of the human race, which shouldn't surprise anyone.

Then whoosh to 2006. Vonnegut's final book, "A Man Without A Coutry" has been released during the Bush years. He discusses the transition from writing to drawing - his prints remain available today on his official posthumous website. At one point he clearly states "I'm all through writing," which may remind some of his "it's all plays now" in the introduction to "Happy Birthday, Wanda June." But he meant it this time, whether his will or the inevitable kept him from publishing again. Apart from this, he had some very strong words for the state of his country at the time and what he saw as the coming inevitable and unstoppable environmental collapse.

Lastly, 2007 arrives. "The Last Interview" of the book's title really refers to two extremely short interviews Vonnegut gave early that year that appeared in May and June following his death. Though they cover a lot of material already covered earlier in the book, they actually sum up the philosophy of Vonnegut's final years very effectively. Their brevity does speak to his condition, though, which makes for slightly depressing reading, especially as one ends with the words: "But I gotta go. I'm not well. Good luck."

With those words closes one of the twentieth century's most fascinating, controversial and adored authors. He often said in speeches that his works will die with him. And though many literature departments haven't seemed to embrace him as one of their own, his works remain strongly in print to this day. Doubtless they will make a seamless transition to e-books and to the more and more sadly neglected classics shelves. All things must pass as they say, but Vonnegut's work will likely take longer to pass than most things in this world. So it will go.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Great 5 Mar. 2013
By EB - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I gave this book as a gift to my son who is a big Kurt Vonnegut fan, he was very happy!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
If you love Vonnegut, BUY IT! 4 Mar. 2013
By Lucy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm a huge Vonnegut fan, so I very much enjoyed this book. I don't think it is a good introductory book if you don't already know his work. The fact that it includes some of his lasts words is what makes it great for me. All his other novels and short stories blow this out of the water...as far as entertainment goes. I never want to put a Vonnegut book down, but this one got a little rest in between reads.
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