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Slapstick, or, Lonesome no more! : a novel…

Slapstick, or, Lonesome no more! : a novel (original 1976; edition 1976)

by Kurt Vonnegut

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Title:Slapstick, or, Lonesome no more! : a novel
Authors:Kurt Vonnegut
Info:New York, N.Y. : Dell, [1989], c1976.
Collections:Your library

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Slapstick: Or Lonesome No More! by Kurt Vonnegut (1976)


1970s (92)
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Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
One of the more surreal ones but an amusing piece of dystopian fiction. ( )
  ptdilloway | Nov 21, 2013 |
Somehow, I'd never read this 36 year old Vonnegut novel. Good stuff. Not outstanding stuff, but good stuff. ( )
  dickmanikowski | Oct 26, 2012 |
Dr. Wilbur Daffodil-11 Swain, the King of Manhattan. One of my 5 favorite KV's. ( )
2 vote BooksForDinner | Oct 3, 2011 |
Vonnegut is a beast. His futures are imaginative, well conceived, engaging, and thought provoking. Feel free to add all of your favorite positive adjectives to this list. ( )
  danconsiglio | Aug 23, 2010 |
I loved Vonnegut in high school and then, for reasons I don't in retrospect understand, I classed him among the childish things to put away when I got to college. In the last year or two-- about a decade after college-- I've gone back and read some of the novels I loved in high school. The ones I remember being the best-- Mother Night and Cat's Cradle, e.g.-- are amazing. They're like fascinating and funny clockwork. The individual gears and springs are beautiful in their own right, but when all the pieces come together and function as a whole, it's almost hard to believe.

I didn't remember much about Slapstick. Reading it again, all grow'd up, it's easy to see why. If the best Vonnegut novels are functioning watches, Slapstick reads like it was cobbled together from gears and springs found around the shop, then abandoned half-finished.

Some of the components are wonderful. Slapstick is the book that develops Vonnegut's idea of artificial families-- family groupings based on shared middle names, assigned at random by a computer. It's a neat idea, and he spells out a few imagined ripple-effects. The book also features a long preface, written in his own voice, that is something special. He gives some history of his family, and writes a bit about the origins of Slapstick. In the preface he mentions writing books with his sister in mind-- she the only member of his audience. I don't know if he talks about this elsewhere in more detail, but his comments on writing with his sister in mind-- both before and after she died-- I've always found wonderful and touching. (Also helpful as a suggestion for writing most anything.)

There are also some problems. The Vonnegut tics-- in this book they're “Hi ho” and “And so on”-- don't add any texture to the story. Certainly nothing like the neck-wrenching nihilism of Slaughterhouse 5's “So it goes.” In Slapstick, they're just tics. There are ideas thrown in but not developed. Variable gravity and miniaturized Chinese. These ideas are structurally integrated in a way that makes them seem like they're supposed to be important. But if they serve any purpose of plot, theme, or metaphor, I failed to notice. The book stops abruptly, without resolution. (There's a comment, at the end, about how it is fitting to stop, here, at the climax of the main character's life. But, given the events of the book, no one could take such a claim seriously.) It's almost as if Vonnegut decided to cut his losses after realizing the novel wasn't going to work out.

Broken watches are still fun to look at. Page by page, Slapstick is fun, too. It's got the usual mix of funny and sad, thought-provoking passages mixed with crude humor. Just don't go in mistaking it for a functioning novel. ( )
2 vote goodmanbrown | Oct 20, 2009 |
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"Call me but love, and I'll be new baptiz'd ..."
Dedicated to the memory of Arthur Stanley Jefferson and Norvell Hardy, two angels of my time.
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This is the closest I will ever come to writing an autobiography.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385334230, Paperback)

Dr. Wilbur Daffodil-11 Swain, centenarian, the last President of the United States, King of Manhattan, and one-half (along with his sister, Eliza) of the most powerful intelligence since Einstein, is penning his autobiography. He occupies the first floor of a ruined Empire State Building and lives like a royal scavenger with his illiterate granddaughter and her beau. Buffeted by fluctuating gravity, the U.S. has been scourged by not one, but two lethal diseases: the Green Death and the Albanian Flu. Consequently, the country has fallen into civil war. (Super-intelligent, miniaturized Chinese watch the West self-destruct from the sidelines.) Swain stayed at the White House until there were no citizens left to govern, then moved to deserted New York City, where he writes a thoughtful missive before death.

In Slapstick, Vonnegut muses on war, man's hubris, and the awful, crippling loneliness humans are freighted with--but, miraculously, the book still manages to delight and amuse. Absurd, knowing, never depressing, Slapstick kindles hope--for the possibility of wisdom, perhaps; for human resiliency, surely.

It's best to end with a quote from the prologue wherein the author discourses on The Meaning of It All, or at least This Book: "Love is where you find it. I think it is foolish to go off looking for it, and I think it can often be poisonous.
I wish that people who are conventionally supposed to love each other would say to each other, when they fight, 'Please--a little less love, and a little more common decency.'"

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:54:13 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

This hilarious, wickedly irreverent farce presents an apocalyptic vision seen through the eyes of the current King of Manhattan (and last President of the United States).

(summary from another edition)

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