‘’Lethal injection and warfare are forms of entertainment,’’ writes the eighty-three year old Kurt Vonnegut of today’s America; and who, with the exception of a couple of Newsnight pundits, would care to argue?
Dismissed (by those who really who ought to know better) as nothing more than a pastiche persuasion of the author’s finer/former-self, there’s no denying that A Man Without A Country ceases to come close to the fictional zenith of Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. But then not many books do!
Moreover, the former does tell it exactly as it (unfortunately) is, right here, right now (and I ain’t talkin’ Van fuckin’ Halen). Be it by way of a tellurian truth: ‘’I know very few people who are dreaming of a world for their grandchildren,’’ or a juxtapositional lust for life: ‘’I hate H-bombs and the Jerry Springer Show.’’
Indeed, it might be argued that Vonnegut’s optimistic verve has never been more crucial – especially when placed amid such territorial pissings of aforementioned doom’n’gloom. For who else would bequeath us with such a soul-curdling swathe of extremity as: ‘’Our President is a Christian. So was Adolf Hitler?’’
Nick Hornby it ain’t.
Think Mark Twain on acid and you’re getting close. Read and comprehend and you’ll be getting closer still. A Man Without A Country is a terribly bold and brave book, written by a man who could so easily rest upon his literary laurels. But then we are talking Kurt Vonnegut – a writer for whom the truth is as imperative as life itself.
God bless his weary typewriter.
A Man Without A Country
(A Memoir of Life in George W. Bush’s America)
By Kurt Vonnegut - Bloomsbury £14.99