Unstuck in Time: A Journey Through Kurt Vonnegut's Life and Novels

Unstuck in Time: A Journey Through Kurt Vonnegut's Life and Novels

by Gregory D. Sumner

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Overview

In Unstuck in Time, Gregory Sumner guides us, with insight and passion, through a biography of fifteen of Kurt Vonnegut's best-known works--his fourteen novels starting with Player Piano (1952) all the way to an epilogue on his last book, A Man Without a Country (2005)--to illustrate the quintessential American writer's profound engagement with the "American Dream" in its various forms.

Sumner gives us a poignant portrait of Vonnegut and his resistance to celebrating the traditional values associated with the American Dream: grandiose ambition, unbridled material success, rugged individualism, and "winners" over "losers." Instead of a celebration of these values, we read and share Vonnegut's outrage, his brokenhearted empathy for those who struggle under the ethos of survival-of-the-fittest in the frontier mentality--something he once memorably described as "an impossibly tough-minded experiment in loneliness."

Heroic and tragic, Vonnegut's novels reflect the pain of his own life's experiences, relieved by small acts of kindness, friendship, and love that exemplify another way of living, another sort of human utopia, an alternative American Dream, and the reason we always return to his books.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781609804305
Publisher: Seven Stories Press
Publication date: 12/04/2012
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 1,158,135
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.82(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

GREGORY D. SUMNER, JD, PhD, is chair of history at the University of Detroit Mercy, where he has taught since 1993. He holds a doctorate in American history from Indiana University and is the author of Dwight Macdonald and the Politics Circle. Sumner has been awarded summer fellowships by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and has twice been William J. Fulbright Senior Lecturer at the Université di Roma Tre.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

Preface ix

Introduction: Storyteller: Kurt Vonnegut and the American Dream 1

Prologue: Impossible Dreams: A Writer s Education, 1922-1952 7

1 Player Piano 21

2 The Sirens of Titan 39

3 Mother Night 59

4 Cat's Cradle 81

5 God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, or, Pearls Before Swine 103

6 Slaughterhouse-Five, or, The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death 123

7 Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday! 147

8 Slapstick, or, Lonesome No More! 171

9 Jailbird 189

10 Deadeye Dick 213

11 Galapagos: A Second Noah's Ark 239

12 Bluebeard 261

13 Hocus Pocus 287

14 Timequake 311

Epilogue: A Man without a Country, a "Planetary Citizen" 323

Notes 331

Kurt Vonnegut's Novels 339

Acknowledgments 341

Index 345

About the Author 356

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