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Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut
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Hocus Pocus (original 1990; edition 1991)

by Kurt Vonnegut

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Title:Hocus Pocus
Authors:Kurt Vonnegut
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Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut (1990)

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Not one of his better efforts. The more things change, the more they stay the same? What was the point? I really wasn't sure. The perpetual motion of a world feeding on its own inadequacies and eccentricities, perhaps? And I, unlike the protagonist's friend from Vietnam, did not have to laugh like hell. ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 20, 2014 |
For the most part this feels like Vonnegut took a bunch of parts from other books and spliced them together into a new book. The jailhouse narrative from Jailbird, the slow apocalypse of Cat's Cradle, the soldier recovering from war like Slaughterhouse-V, and so forth. That doesn't mean this is bad, just that it seems like it's covering a lot of familiar territory. But while it came out about 20 years ago it's talk of corporate greed remains just as relevant. And if you change most of the mentions of Japan to China it would largely reflect our current world.

That is all. ( )
  ptdilloway | Nov 21, 2013 |
I've never read Vonnegut before. This was a sharp, biting satire against most of society. The author had served in Vietnam, and I think that it was his experience there that came through clearly in his writing and made the satire seem almost too bitter to me. (Though, God knows, I'd be bitter, too!).

Still, it was an interesting read, and I would definitely try his work again. It was an extremely clever book which lived up to its title. At the end, I had the feeling that the author was playing a great joke on his readers, which I'm sure was intentional and brilliant. ( )
  bookwoman247 | Nov 17, 2013 |
I can't say that this is one of Kurt Vonnegut's best works. To be honest, it's rather more depressing than many of his other novels - and they're a rather depressing lot anyway! Unlike his Bluebeard, though, this book lacks a deeply moving and somehow uplifting ending. It lacks a sense of resolution...perhaps that's what Vonnegut intended. It probably is.

But even so, Vonnegut retained his gifts as a writer. So although I found myself frequently feeling a little depressed by this book, I also couldn't stop reading it - and I'll eventually read it again.

One thing that's almost shocking is the accuracy of Vonnegut's "future" (2001) America. Environmental collapse (from glaciers instead of global warming, but close enough), an ever-increasing gap between the rich and the poor, a desperate energy crisis, booming prison populations and the privatization of prisons, the wholesale purchase of American businesses and properties by foreign businesses, chronic unemployment caused by the demise of American industry, no healthcare for the poor...and that's just from memory, I know there was more. The seeds of all these trends were not only planted but sprouting back in 1990 when Vonnegut wrote this, but even so he paints a pitiless and frighteningly accurate picture.

It's nice to see a few of his old favorite characters in the book; it gives a feeling of continuity. And he retained his wicked wit and imagination. It just seems that they were being overshadowed by the essential bleakness of Vonnegut's worldview - a worldview which, I fear, was only too clear. ( )
  PMaranci | Apr 3, 2013 |
Inside this mess is a good story: a Vietnam vet with a sex addiction worked at an odd college that was next to a huge prison. Due to the addiction he was fired, and went to work at the prison. There was an escape, and the quirky college was overrun by inmates, and our "hero" was blamed. I usually don't give away so many plot details in my reviews, but this plot was not important to Vonnegut when he wrote the story. What was important? Satire, social commentary, and other intellectual stuff that does not impress me, but know others will enjoy. I did enjoy the piece about "The Protocols of the Elders of Tralfamadore," and the stuck elevator/coming home from the Vietnam War analogy. ( )
  mainrun | Sep 8, 2012 |
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My name is Eugene Debs Hartke, and I was born in 1940.
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Tarkington College, a small, exclusive college in upstate New York, is turned upside down when ten thousand prisoners from the maximum security prison across Lake Mohiga break out and head for the college.

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