A Man Without a Country, by Kurt Vonnegut

December 20, 2010 at 17:29 (Biography, Book Reviews, Highly Rated Books, Philosophy, Politics) (, , , )


This is a book designed to upset all those who are stunned to find that although they really liked Kurt Vonnegut as an author, they would have hated him as a person; or, a book to make those who have always agreed with Vonnegut’s innoffensive centrist agnosticism swell up with pride and nod their heads sagely at his pompous disowning of the world.

It is not creatively or artistically written – which simply means it is readable, relatable and interesting – and it is jarring when Vonnegut veers wildly from topic to topic without warning. Towards the end, however, a fuller picture is formed of a surprisingly holistic worldview, and the feeling of a long fireside chat with a man who can be summed up as wise, and very, very nice.

The fact that wisdom and being nice aren’t magic bullets that will address all of the world’s ills aside, A Man Without a Country is above all a plaintive cry from a desperate – and very nice – man, demanding an answer to things that are bad, and holding out his hands, hoping that in his final moments he might find something so elusive as peace. It’s a shame that Vonnegut never found it, but his life’s postscript is still a beautiful and soulful piece of literature, abundantly worth reading and processing, and sure to be relevant even when George W. Bush is one of history’s footnotes, and when all of the things Vonnegut is afraid of have either happened, or gone away forever.

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