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An anthology in which Vonnegut freely quotes himself on everything from art and architecture to madness and mass murderUncompromising Los Angeles Times Honest and scarily funny, and it offers a rare insight into an author who has customarily hidden his heart New York TimesHere we have a collection of essays and speeches by me, with breezy autobiographical commentary serving as connective tissue and splints and bandages Here we go again with real life and opinions made to look like one big, preposterous animal not unlike an invention by Dr Seuss Kurt Vonnegut, from Fates Worse Than Death


10 thoughts on “Fates Worse Than Death

  1. Beth Beth says:

    I read this book all the way through on June 6 2007, in the lobby of the Executive West hotel in Louisville, KY while my husband took his radiology boards It was as if Kurt Vonnegut himself was seated beside me and had spent that day with me He made me laugh, he made me think and he took my mind off of the matter at hand It was one of the bright sunny, wonderful days of one s life and I am so happy that Kurt was part of it.


  2. MJ Nicholls MJ Nicholls says:

    This is Vonnegut s last in the trio of autobiographical collages, which is a canny way of presenting various nonfiction materials without having to impose a structure on the book This is the most shambolic of the three firstly, Fates Worse Than Death is divided into conventional chapters, so the reader has no contents table to peruse the various speeches Kurt reproduces here from recent public speaking events And the book is mostly reproduced public speeches, most of which are entertaining a This is Vonnegut s last in the trio of autobiographical collages, which is a canny way of presenting various nonfiction materials without having to impose a structure on the book This is the most shambolic of the three firstly, Fates Worse Than Death is divided into conventional chapters, so the reader has no contents table to peruse the various speeches Kurt reproduces here from recent public speaking events And the book is mostly reproduced public speeches, most of which are entertaining and erudite in his typical style, but some of which become tiresome Imagine sitting through several hours of Vonnegut lecturing That effect is created here On the positive side, although he repeats facts about his life from previous books ad nauseam did you know he worked for General Electric and was at Dresden , the commentary on his family is illuminating among the shrubbery of opinion Not to say the revelation he tried to commit suicide in the 1980s, which is barely discussed and leaves me cravingdetail So yes, absolutely for diehards only Those wishing to dip a toe into his nonfiction try Palm Sunday


  3. Anne Anne says:

    As I work my way through his books, I find that I love his speeches and essays farthan his fiction That is a pleasant surprise I absolutely loved this book perhapsthan Palm Sunday There are too many passages to quote but I ll note a few We were in hell, thanks to technology which was telling us what to do, instead of the other way around And it wasn t just TV It was weapons which could actually kill everything half a world away It was vehicles powered by glurp from undergrou As I work my way through his books, I find that I love his speeches and essays farthan his fiction That is a pleasant surprise I absolutely loved this book perhapsthan Palm Sunday There are too many passages to quote but I ll note a few We were in hell, thanks to technology which was telling us what to do, instead of the other way around And it wasn t just TV It was weapons which could actually kill everything half a world away It was vehicles powered by glurp from underground which could make a fat old lady go a mile a minute while picking her nose and listening to the radio In the same chapter, he talks about how technology has helped us travel to other countries and to learn about other cultures, something that used to be exclusively for people studying anthropology So we now know for certain that there are no potential human enemies anywhere who are anything but human beings almost exactly like ourselves They need food How amazing They love their children How amazing They obey their leaders How amazing They think like their neighbors How amazing


  4. Glen Krisch Glen Krisch says:

    3.5 stars Vonnegut is always worth reading Solid, not stellar.


  5. Lukasz Pruski Lukasz Pruski says:

    According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the average American child watches 18,000 TV murders before it graduates from high school. I share a substantial portion of my worldview with Kurt Vonnegut so when I read his books I must feel like the huge majority of Internet users who read only the stuff that they agree with we crave confirmation that we are so very right Alas this also means that I probably tend to overrate Vonnegut s books even when they are not that outstanding Fates Wor According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the average American child watches 18,000 TV murders before it graduates from high school. I share a substantial portion of my worldview with Kurt Vonnegut so when I read his books I must feel like the huge majority of Internet users who read only the stuff that they agree with we crave confirmation that we are so very right Alas this also means that I probably tend to overrate Vonnegut s books even when they are not that outstanding Fates Worse than Death 1991 is not a very good book at all unfocused, repetitive, tedious in places yet I still like it a lot How can one not like reading things that one agrees with The subtitle, An Autobiographical Collage, aptly characterizes this collection of speeches, short pieces of writing, and ruminations on various topics, which makes Fates quite similar to Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons , although Fates is a significantly less cohesive work Even if the 1945 bombing of Dresden is still a major topic I will omit it here because I have already written about it in reviews of other works by Vonnegut, including his absolute masterpiece Slaughterhouse Five.One of the other main themes is the environment Note the book was written over a quarter of a century ago, when worrying about climate change, etc was not as popular as it is now Mr Vonnegut had been passionate about the human race destroying the planet for our children and grandchildren well before most of us began thinking about it While speaking at MIT he begged the graduating class to take an oath that they will use their extraordinary technical skills only to the benefit of the planet.Mr Vonnegut spends a substantial portion of the book attacking the deadly one two punch of what I call the American culture of murder A US citizen is born and raised in the parareligious cult of guns as devices signifying and guaranteeing freedom this cult is continually reinforced by the never ending stream of murders depicted by the TV and entertainment industry as mentioned in the epigraph The author says Who needs a Joseph Goebbels to make us think killing is as quotidian an activity as tying one s shoes All that is needed is a TV industry Book censorship is a topic that should be dear to members of Goodreads and Vonnegut s books had been banned in certain places, ostensibly for vulgarity but in reality for not conforming to the views of the majority of people There is the word motherfucker one time in my Slaughterhouse Five Ever since that book was published, way back in 1969, children have been attempting to have intercourse with their mothers When it will stop no one knows Clearly the m word corrodes the moral fiber of the society Another hilarious passage is devoted to the wittiest limerick in the world , which is so obscene that it could never be made public in any form We can read the unspeakably obscene poem courtesy of Rita Rait, the Russian translator of Vonnegut s works.On a serious note, the theme that speaks to me the strongest in the entire collection is the author s rant about the insanity of encouraging people to do their best at loving other people The natural inability to love other people leads to hate people should be told to respect others instead Vonnegut says I like to think that Jesus said in Aramaic, Ye shall respect one another Anyway, Fates, objectively, is not an above average work, yet I almost love it because I respect the author s intentions.Two and a half stars


  6. Andrew Andrew says:

    I was first introduced to Vonnegut through his fiction, which is a good portion of what he s written And that those works are great he has some unique and interesting ideas, and he has the ability to wrap a funny, compelling, and meaningful story around them.I eventually stumbled upon the group of Vonnegut s publications, like this one, which feature him speaking in his own voice, presenting his experiences and ideas first hand And to me, that was so utterly refreshing Reading his fiction, I was first introduced to Vonnegut through his fiction, which is a good portion of what he s written And that those works are great he has some unique and interesting ideas, and he has the ability to wrap a funny, compelling, and meaningful story around them.I eventually stumbled upon the group of Vonnegut s publications, like this one, which feature him speaking in his own voice, presenting his experiences and ideas first hand And to me, that was so utterly refreshing Reading his fiction, you can just tell that there s a very interesting man behind the words Reading his thoughts unfiltered offers glimpse after glimpse into the life he lived But, when those thoughts themselves are somewhat lackluster, the reading experience loses a bit of it s appeal That s how I felt with this book In it, Vonnegut quotes a book that claims aging American humorists inevitably end up mouthing sardonic fables in a bed of gloom I m sorry to say it, but much of the supposed substance here is just the essence of that bed of gloom Now that the thrill of hearing from Vonnegut himself has somewhat worn off for me, the thoughts he has to offer here are mostly just negative, and often uninteresting That being said, it s not all bad there are indeed a few shining moments in here.In any case, this book was certainly not a sign of Vonnegut s impending doom in this realm of writing, as the excellent semi novel Timequake was still yet to come Though his approach is quite different, Vonnegut manages to accomplish there something along the lines what he was trying to do here


  7. Ellen Ellen says:

    If I could give this a 4.5 star, I completely would This book is self awareness at its finest Of course, I thoroughly adore Vonnegut This is the 18th book I ve read of his, and I may be getting so excited about this because I haven t read one of his works in so long It was refreshing to be immersed in his style again, to feel understood by his witty and unconventional perspective Some people may think that this books is rather dark, seems tired, and isn t the most perfectly written But tha If I could give this a 4.5 star, I completely would This book is self awareness at its finest Of course, I thoroughly adore Vonnegut This is the 18th book I ve read of his, and I may be getting so excited about this because I haven t read one of his works in so long It was refreshing to be immersed in his style again, to feel understood by his witty and unconventional perspective Some people may think that this books is rather dark, seems tired, and isn t the most perfectly written But that is what I love about it Kurt Vonnegut lets us into his life and into his world, being raw and honest about things that have happened I will say that it takes a decent understanding of Vonnegut s previous works and his life story to fully grasp the context in which this work is written I loved it I will keep saying that a hundred times.This book gives the most excellent argument for gun control I have ever read, and presents well formed ideas on environmentalism and religion Such an intelligent work, so beautifully written This gives a selection of all the outstanding selections of Vonnegut s writings speeches articles etc without being overburdening to the reader His commentary after the fact is hilarious and brings up good points It is indeed a somber work, but one that gets you thinking and is so excellently written Classic Vonnegut, though clearly towards the later years of his career This is an insightful read and set apart from his novels and short stories, because he is so self aware in presenting an autobiographical collage of his life


  8. Matt Matt says:

    I love Vonnegut memoirs, and this one is right on par with Palm Sunday As someone interested in religion, I appreciated how directly Kurt addresses his own atheism sloppy Unitarianism, and what he perceives as the failures of Christianity It always surprises me how much I enjoy the perspectives of this smoky old curmudgeon This book was written at about the same time as his novel Hocus Pocus, which is one of his most negative and weakly written novels It s strange how this memoir then spea I love Vonnegut memoirs, and this one is right on par with Palm Sunday As someone interested in religion, I appreciated how directly Kurt addresses his own atheism sloppy Unitarianism, and what he perceives as the failures of Christianity It always surprises me how much I enjoy the perspectives of this smoky old curmudgeon This book was written at about the same time as his novel Hocus Pocus, which is one of his most negative and weakly written novels It s strange how this memoir then speaks with the younger confident and likable Vonnegut voice, as heard in novels like Breakfast of Champions, and which returns later in Timequake in particular I was lucky enough to purchase my copy of this one at the KV memorial museum in Indianapolis, which is worth a visit if you re ever in Indy


  9. John John says:

    This is Vonnegut s third nonfiction collection, and covers the 80 s A weaker effort I thought there was a lot of padding in the book, Vonnegut is grumpier and seriously depressed , and there is a bit too much name dropping of his famous author friends His shtick is starting to get old But in fairness he admits all of this in the book except the name dropping.


  10. Kenny Kenny says:

    It s one to dip into rather than read cover to cover A collection of essays and speeches unsurprisingly there is a bit of repetition But as with all Vonnegut what he says is worth hearing, warm, funny, bewildered and cynical yet hopeful Often in the same paragraph I didn t alwAys agree, but I always enjoyed reading this.And the world s dirtiest limericks joke made me giggle on the train