links for 2010-12-10

  • 'There is no possible justification for Vonnegut’s enshrinement in the Library of America, which exists “to preserve the nation's cultural heritage by publishing America’s best and most significant writing in authoritative editions. . . .” Even one of his champions—James Lundquist, in a 1977 single-author study—classifies his fiction as “ ‘naive’ literature because [Vonnegut] makes so much use of expected associations and conventions for the purpose of rapid communication with its readers.”'

One Response

  1. By and large, the good professor is right. I was offered the opportunity to edit the LOA edition of Vonnegut and turned it down.

    My forthcoming biography of him, available from Henry Holt & Co. in 2011 will argue that that he was an upper-middle class, conservative who, as a former public relations man, was finely attuned to popular taste and how to sell himself. He understood the importance of branding himself long before the term became popular in publishing.

    My discussion of Slaughterhouse-Five is too lengthy to go into here, but I make it clear that is was his best, most inventive book in nearly fifty years of writing, born largely out of frustration– sexual and stylistic. The rest of his work was entertainment.


    Charles J. Shields

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