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Fates Worse Than Death by Kurt Vonnegut
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Fates Worse Than Death

by Kurt Vonnegut

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Vonnegut never fails for me. I found this book both witty and a bit tragic, like most his books, and incredibly refreshing.

My favorite American author, by far. ( )
  mkclane | Jul 31, 2015 |
I checked this particular book out from the local library. The subtitle on that copy was "An Autobiographical Collage of the 1980s". Just a couple days ago I received a paperback copy from a user on bookmooch and the subtitle simply read, "An Autobiographical Collage" (the same cover appears above). I assume this is to keep the book looking relevant after 16 years since its initial publication date. I guess that's a pretty good marketing move on the publisher's part.

Fates Worse Than Death, as the subtitle suggests, is an autobiography of sorts. It contains twenty-some linked essays, sorted into chapters, on a variety of subjects; his severe suicidal depression ("I was completely apeshit"), his family history, his wartime experiences as a PFC in World War II, his thoughts on everything from religion (he claims he's a Unitarian Universalist -- i.e. he breathes) to global starvation and alcoholism. It helps to be familiar with Vonnegut's previous works, but it's not necessary by any means. But be warned: his sense of humor will either leave you rolling on the floor laughing or vomiting in the kitchen sink. Well, okay, it's not that extreme but you get the point. Vonnegut says it himself when he writes, "I will say anything to be funny, often in the most horrible situations, which is one reason two good women so far have been very sorry on occasion to have married me." ( )
  zenslave | Jan 27, 2015 |
A fairly innocuous set of essays, some pushing his liberal agenda (and I'm not saying that in a bad way), some about his war experiences and most very autobiographical in nature. I appreciated that he stated his debt to Mr. Twain. It's something that I've noted more than once. Overall, a nice diversion and a fast read. ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 19, 2014 |
Like the best sci-fi writers Vonnegut manages to write a series of essays and speeches in the late 80s that still resonate today. His thoughts on guns, racism, and neo-Conservatism are as relevant in the 21st Century as they were back in 1990. ( )
  ptdilloway | Nov 21, 2013 |
Most writers shun bringing their family members, wife and children, into the picture. Not Kurt Vonnegut. In Fates worse than death. An autobiographical collage there are several references to his wife and children and their wonderful achievements. Or pride themselves on knowing celebrities.

As in the preface: The adjacent photograph by Jill Krementz (my wife) shows me with the great German writer Heinrich Böll (like me and Norman Mailer and James Jones and Gore Vidal a former Private in the Infantry). Referring to himself three times in one sentence.

Fates worse than death seems a somewhat lazy memoir. Especially the opening chapters are very conversational. The humour does not ring true. Chapters are connected by picking up the thread, focusing on a snippet of information mentioned in the previous chapter.

Having read little by this author, Kurt Vonnegut seems a one-theme author. The photo facing, preceding, the preface refers to the Second Word War, as does the last photo, on the last page of the book, showing the author roaming the German countryside, just after the war. The whole book is mainly about the author's war experience.

There are various asides from the main theme, referring to himself and the world at large in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Actually, after the first 80 pages or so, the tone of the book becomes a little bit more serious, and more interesting, although the aura of self-aggrandizing remains. ( )
  edwinbcn | Nov 4, 2012 |
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Kurt Vonnegut presents in Fates Worse than Death a veritable cornucopia of Vonnegut's thought on what could best be summed up as perhaps anti-theology, a manifesto for atheism that details Vonnegut's drift from conventional religion, even a tract evidencing belief in the divine held within each individual self; the Deity within each individual person present in a universe that otherwise lacks any real order.Vonnegut was never a real optimist and with just cause: he had an incredibly difficult life (he had been a prisoner of war from which he drew the title for his book Slaughterhouse-Five) and suffered from failing health, which only showed him his own mortality even more than he already knew it. Still, most readers find that in the body of Vonnegut's work there is still a glimmer of desperate hope. Vonnegut's continued search for meaning surely counts for a great deal as he balances hope and despair.Scholars and fans can read about Vonnegut's experiences during World War II and the after-effect he felt it had on him. His religious (or anti-religious) ramblings and notations are interesting and, by turns, funny and perceptive. The humor may be dark, but that does not make it any the less funny.… (more)

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