Hocus Pocus

Hocus Pocus

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From the New York Times bestselling author of Slaughterhouse-Five comes an irresistible novel that combines “clever wit with keen social observation...[and] re-establishes Mr. Vonnegut’s place as the Mark Twain of our times” (Atlanta Journal & Constitution).

Here is the adventure of Eugene Debs Hartke. He’s a Vietnam veteran, a jazz pianist, a college professor, and a prognosticator of the apocalypse (and other things Earth-shattering). But that’s neither here nor there. Because at Tarkington College—where he teaches—the excrement is about to hit the air-conditioning. And it’s all Eugene’s fault.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501263347
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication date: 08/04/2015
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Kurt Vonnegut was a master of contemporary American literature. His black humor, satiric voice, and incomparable imagination first captured America’s attention in The Sirens of Titan in 1959 and established him, in the words of The New York Times, as “a true artist” with the publication of Cat’s Cradle in 1963. He was, as Graham Greene declared, “one of the best living American writers.” Mr. Vonnegut passed away in April 2007.

Date of Birth:

November 11, 1922

Date of Death:

April 11, 2007

Place of Birth:

Indianapolis, Indiana

Place of Death:

New York, New York


Cornell University, 1940-42; Carnegie-Mellon University, 1943; University of Chicago, 1945-47; M.A., 1971

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Hocus Pocus 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 54 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Very funny. Classic Vonnegut. The tale is appealing in the sense of plot, but also has a meaning. Great for a Vonnegut fan.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm new to the world of Vonnegut; this is the fourth book I've read in his novel panoply. Hocus-Pocus is brilliant and darkly humorous. It's the autobiography of Eugene Debs Hartke, a Vietnam vet who is embroiled in the siege of a community college at the hands of escaped convicts. This is the typical Kurt Vonnegut novel, filled with biting sarcasm and gallows humor. I highly recommend this one-- it's hard to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thus a good book
matthew254 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hocus Pocus is a hodge podge of curiously disjointed bits of thought undeniably arranged in a flowing order originally written on bits of paper and post-it notes. A despicably likeable main character stuck in a bureaucratic mess forces him to confess his delightfully funny past actions in vain hopes of keeping his cushy job. Lots of random humor kept me on my toes.
sedelia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I will preface my review by saying that Kurt Vonnegut is not for everyone. Personally, I love the subject matter he writes about and his style. However, I know quite a few people that wouldn't be able to get through two chapters of this.Hocus Pocus doesn't have much of a traditional plot; if anything, it's more of a character study of Hartke, the main character in the novel. Like the summary says, it's a fictional autobiography. For some readers, it may be slow going because of this, but there's plenty of action and drama to keep interest.It's hard to give a review of Hocus Pocus, because it's so different from most novels. I will say that I loved it and found it highly entertaining. Vonnegut tackles a lot of issues in this novel -- environmental concerns that are eerily accurate for a book written in 1990, the effects that war has on a person and a nation, bureaucratic power games, etc. I liked the numerology aspects that are included, though the ending gave me a bit of a headache trying to figure out; I'm sure it's much easier when you're actually reading the book rather than listening to it being read. Even though it's definitely depressing (which is to be expected from Vonnegut), I found myself chuckling at many of Hartke's observations and at the weird things that have happened in his life.There was one thing and one thing only that bothered me about Hocus Pocus. There were quite a few references to Slaughter-House Five. Hartke mentions "some author" who wrote about Trafalmadorians and goes on to mention them multiple times throughout the second half of the novel. I didn't think these references added anything to the story -- in fact, they took me out of the story because I kept wondering why Vonnegut couldn't think of anything else to reference besides his own novel.George Ralph's performance is astounding. His tone is perfect for this book. For the humorous, satirical parts, he speaks as if he's serious, but somehow still makes it known that the words aren't meant to be taken literally. Hartke came alive for me because of Ralph's narration, and I'm sure I wouldn't have enjoyed Hocus Pocus as much had I not listened to this audiobook.
Alera on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's the story of a man facing death who is slowly retelling his life upon scraps of paper. There is an underlying humor that makes you both pity and sympathize with him. And in the end, he seems almost to measure his life not in days but in people he killed and women he slept with, which in the end...might be how we all measure our lives. The small things don't stick...they don't matter. The people who die, the people you love, they are what make you.
NellieMc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
True Vonnegut style, with some humorous moments, but truly a bitter book -- I was so depressed on finishing it. Yes, there are a lot of things that don't work in America, but this book was so full of hate for American things that I have to reciprocate with an equal amount of dislike.
StephenBarkley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you¿ve read Vonnegut, you¿ll already know his distinct blend of irony and satire. If you¿ve never read him, this is a good place to start. The humor in the narrative had me laughing out loud, while at the same time cringing from the truth conveyed.I¿ll leave you with the last line of the book to give you a taste (don¿t worry, it¿s pretty much impossible to ruin a Vonnegut book by explaining the plot or looking at the last page first):"Just because some of us can read and write and do a little math, that doesn¿t mean we deserve to conquer the Universe."How true.
figre on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sometimes, you may be tempted to feel that, once you¿ve read one Vonnegut novel you have read them all. Do not fall in that trap. Yes, he uses many of the same tools and tricks. Yes, he even uses some of his favorites from other books (Tralfamadore reappears briefly in this novel.) Yes, he continues to brush with science fiction even though he refuses to be called a science fiction writer. But that is just a man who has found the style that is his own - and is continuing to explore the many ways it works.In other words, each Vonnegut novel feels comfortable, yet still amazes. This one is no exceptionThe book is a collection of the notes Eugene Hartke has written while waiting for trial in the library of the college where he used to work. They are written on any scrap of paper he can find, so some are paragraphs long ¿ others are single words. This is the conceit Vonnegut uses so he can write in his typically disjointed, synchronistic way. We eventually learn of Hartke¿s time working in the college, his eventually firing, his time working in the nearby prison, and how he responds to the prison break that takes over the town and the college. Hartke also explores his own past, including his time in Vietnam. This allows Vonnegut to speak to one of his favorite passions ¿ the problems with war. But never underestimate Vonnegut. He does not write about the horrors of war to speak badly about war; he is speaking about the broader issue of the ways people mistreat people. And that is very evident throughout this book.There is a cast of memorable people and weird events that, as only Vonnegut can do, gel perfectly. And it is set in the very near future so, while things seem almost normal, there are subtle little shots (e.g. prisons are now segregated, the Japanese are running most of the country, the militia is the only thing keeping any control, Brooklyn may well have tried to secede) that remind you that Vonnegut is manipulating the universe to his own ends.One last note ¿ book blurbs are always fascinating. This book has many that refer to the book being hilarious and a scream. Reading these quotes, one expects to spend the entire reading experience laughing out loud. I¿m sorry, that is not Vonnegut. Rather, Vonnegut is satiric comedy that will keep you smiling while being fed the sermon. This is one more of his lessons that goes down very well.
fuzzy_patters on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have read a lot of Vonnegut, and Hocus Pocus is pretty typical in its anti-war, social satire of the world we live in. However, I found it to be atypical in that it is much more cynical than the other Vonnegut novels that I have read. That isn't to say that all of his novels aren't cynical, but Hocus Pocus finds a Vonnegut that has almost written off the world.Through his protagonist, Eugene Debs Hartke, he pokes fun at the idea that we are somehow intelligent creatures, "the ruling class," and the idea that there is a god. Then, he turns around and has his character make decisions out of fear that their might actually be a Judgment Day and portrays certain members of "the ruling class" in a positive light. He even has one of his characters point out towards the end that a particularly pointed characterizations of Yale and other ruling class universities "might have been a little harsh."Basically, Vonnegut is cynical but inconsistent in the viewpoints expressed in this book. He comes across as the satirical muckraker who has suddenly realized that he might not have all the answers. He is an atheist, but we should be careful just in case there is a god. The ruling class is made up of plantation owners forcing the rest of us into slavery, but that might be a little harsh. It's these frequent contradictions that make this such a fascinating read. No one has all fo the answers. Not even someone who has as spent as many years observing all of the things that make us what we are as Vonnegut had.
Tasker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first Vonnegut novel I've read and enjoyed it to the point of wanting to read more of his work. I enjoyed the observations of his main character though I'm not quite sure why. Perhaps it's because it seemed more like an editorial of American life than a story.
ndolson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My favorite of all of his works. If you are a Vonnegut fan then this is a must read.
mermania27 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting. Fun. And best of all...bizarre. R.I.P. Kurt, your readers miss you.
gwoodrow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hocus Pocus introduced me to many various now-familiar aspects of KV's writing. The many colorful characters, the unimpressive schlub protagonists who are in so many ways their own antagonists, the incredibly intriguing and imaginative scenes that he paints so effortlessly (a child in Hiroshima who bends over to pick up a ball in a ditch feels a woosh of warm air across his back as he does so, then stands up to see a wasteland of devastation from a nuclear bomb), the witticisms that could and should be taken as genuine advice ("profanity and obscenity entitle people who don't want unpleasant information to close their ears and eyes to you"), all marinated in his own distinct brand of humor.I was a late-comer to Vonnegut, this being the first book I read by him. I finished it roughly a month before his death, and it saddened me to have discovered such an amazing author so near his twilight. I was saddened still more by reaching backwards through his career, and in doing so I gained some good perspective for my review of this book.Hocus Pocus was, to me, infinitely better than the average dreck you might pick up in the bookstore. I think it would hold its own against most of of the top ten bestsellers at any given moment (for the thoughtful reader, not necessarily for the airplane readers). But I've learned from what little I've started to explore of his older books that Hocus Pocus is really just average for Vonnegut. Yes, this is average for him. This is homeostasis. This is no insult at all. His average is still so very much better than most books out there. But seeing as how it's his average, I'd say it's a great place to start in on his writing. This book is a great way for any curious reader to introduce themselves to Vonnegut. No need to throw yourselves into his greatest hits right away. I personally don't think you can go wrong picking up anything by the man.
rcooper3589 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
the more vonnegut i read, the more i enjoy him! i have to admit, however, i don't always get 100% of the satire and refrences- but i got enough of it to understand most of it! i liked how i never really knew where the story was going and how it kept me on my toes. this is one of his newer novels, but it still had the same great story telling. i really liked the ending- it was well deserved and left me satisfied. (and i love how both john irving and joseph heller are quoted on the cover!- you know it's a good book when two of your favorite authors say so!!!)
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