Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Kurt Vonnegut  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Born: November 11, 1922 in Indiana

Died: April 11, 2007 in Manhattan

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-- Wikipedia --
-- Kurt Vonnegut on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

*Vonnegut attended the University of Chicago as a graduate student in anthropology and also worked as a police reporter at the ''City News Bureau'' of Chicago

Biographical and Professional Information

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. is an American novelist, satirist, and most recently, graphic artist. He was recognized as New York State Author for 2001-2003.He was born in Indianapolis, the setting for many of his novels. He attended Cornell University from 1941 to 1943, where he served as an opinions section editor for the student newspaper, the Cornell Daily Sun. Vonnegut trained as a chemist and worked as a journalist before joining the U.S. Army and serving in World War II. He is a combat infantry veteran and holds a Purple Heart.After the war, he attended the University of Chicago as a graduate student in anthropology and also worked as a police reporter at the City News Bureau of Chicago. He left Chicago to work in Schenectady, New York, in public relations for General Electric. He attributed his unadorned writing style to his reporting work.His experiences as an advance scout in the Battle of the Bulge, and in particular his witnessing of the bombing of Dresden, Germany, while a prisoner of war, would inform much of his work. This event would also form the core of his most famous work, Slaughterhouse-Five, the book that would make him a millionaire. This acerbic 200-page book is what most people mean when they describe a work as "Vonnegutian" in scope.Vonnegut is a self-proclaimed humanist and socialist (influenced by the style of Indiana's own Eugene V. Debs) and has recently done a print advertisement for the American Civil Liberties Union. He is also a notable world federalist.From 1970 to 2000, Vonnegut lived in an East Side Manhattan brownstone, with his wife, the renowned photographer Jill Krementz. On January 31, 2000, a fire destroyed the top story of his home. Vonnegut suffered smoke inhalation and was hospitalized in critical condition for four days. He survived, but his personal archives were destroyed, and after leaving the hospital he retired to Northampton, Massachusetts. He taught an advanced writing class at Smith College for a period in 2000.

Published Works

  • Player Piano, 1952; published as Utopia 14 (1954). Published again as Player Piano, 1966
  • The Sirens of Titan, 1959
  • Mother Night, 1961
  • Canary in a Cathouse, 1961
  • Cat's Cradle, 1963
  • God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater; or, Pearls before Swine, 1965
  • Welcome to the Monkey House: A Collection of Short Works, 1968
  • Slaughterhouse Five, 1969 (Twenty-fifth anniversary edition, 1994)
  • Breakfast of Champions; or, Goodbye Blue Monday, 1973
  • Slapstick: or Lonesome No More!, 1976
  • Jailbird, 1979
  • Deadeye Dick, 1982
  • Galápagos: A Novel, 1985
  • Bluebeard, 1987
  • Hocus Pocus, 1990
  • Fates Worse Than Death, September 1992
  • Timequake, 1997
  • Hocus Pocus, October 1997
  • God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, September 1998
  • Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction, 1999
  • Palm Sunday, May 1999
  • Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons, January 1999
  • A Man Without A Country, September 2005
  • Armageddon in Retrospect, Putnam Adult, 2008 (a posthumous collection of twelve new and unpublished writings on war and peace)

Selected Titles At Your Library

Player piano /
ISBN: 0385333781. OCLC Number:

Delacorte Press,. New York :. ©1952.

Vonnegut's first novel, an unforgiving portrait of an automated and totalitarian future, was published in 1952. A human revolt against the machines which control life was arranged by the machines themselves to prove the futility of such resistance. Visionary and unrelenting, this is felt by some critics to be Vonnegut's best and most original novel.

The sirens of Titan /
ISBN: 0385333498. OCLC Number:

. .

The richest and most depraved man on Earth takes a wild space journey to distant worlds, learning about the purpose of human life along the way.

Mother night /
ISBN: 0385334141. OCLC Number:

Delacorte Press,. New York :. ©1966.

Mother Night is a daring challenge to our moral sense. American Howard W. Campbell, Jr., a spy during World War II, is now on trial in Israel as a Nazi war criminal. But is he really guilty? Truth and justice are blurred in this brilliant satire rife with true gallows humor. Vonnegut turns black and white into a chilling shade of gray with a verdict that will haunt us all.

Cat's cradle /
ISBN: 038533348X. OCLC Number:

Delta Trade Paperbacks,. New York, N.Y. :. 1998, ©1963.

From the Publisher: Cat's Cradle is Vonnegut's satirical commentary on modern man and his madness. An apocalyptic tale of this planet's ultimate fate, it features a midget as the protagonist; a complete, original theology created by a calypso singer; and a vision of the future that is at once blackly fatalistic and hilariously funny.

God bless you, Mr. Rosewater :
ISBN: 0385333471. OCLC Number:

Delacorte Press,. New York :. ©1965.

A lawyer schemes to gain control of a large fortune by having the present claimant declared insane.

Slaughterhouse-five :
ISBN: 0385333846. OCLC Number:

Delacorte Press,. [New York] :. [1969]

Billy Pilgrim serves as a chaplain's assistant in the Second World War, is captured by the Germans, and survives the fire bombing of Dresden to contemplate the human condition.

Breakfast of champions, or, Goodbye blue Monday! /
ISBN: 0385334206. OCLC Number:

Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence,. [New York] :. 1973.

Aging science fiction writer Kilgore Trout, finds to his horror that a Midwest car dealer is taking his fiction as truth. The result is murderously funny satire as Vonnegut looks at war, sex, racism, success, politics, and pollution in America and reminds us how to see the truth.

Slapstick, or, Lonesome no more! :
ISBN: 0385334230. OCLC Number:

. .

This hilarious, wickedly irreverent farce presents an apocalyptic vision seen through the eyes of the current King of Manhattan (and former President of the United States).

Jailbird :
ISBN: 0385333900. OCLC Number:

. .

Harvard, the New Deal, the Holocaust, World War II, Watergate, two prison terms, and a giant conglomerate ... This wry tale follows bumbling bureaucrat Walter F. Starbuck, who tries to live by the Sermon on the Mount, from Harvard to the Nixon White House to the penitentiary as Watergate's least known co-conspirator. Shall the meek inherit the earth? Perhaps on a short-term basis.

Deadeye Dick /
ISBN: 0385334176. OCLC Number:

Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence,. New York, N.Y. :. ©1982.

A young man from a peculiar family background inadvertently shoots a pregnant woman while playing with a rifle. This catastrophe has an irrevocable effect upon his life. Rudy Waltz, a.k.a. Deadeye Dick, tells the story of his life as a middle-aged man expatriate in Haiti. In addition to the other catastrophes of his life, his hometown back in the U.S. is virtually destroyed by a neutron bomb. At the ending of the book, it appears that Rudy, while he may not have fully come to terms with his actions, has at least come to live with them.

Galápagos :
ISBN: 0385333870. OCLC Number:

Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence,. New York, N.Y. :. ©1985.

Observed by a ghost of the Vietnam War for one million years, the descendants of survivors of a cruise to the Galapagos Archipielago prove Darwin's theory of evolution.

Bluebeard /
ISBN: 038533351X. OCLC Number:

. .

An autobiography of Rabo Karabekian, an abstract expressionist artist, who acquired the largest collection of abstract expressionist paintings in private hands.

Hocus pocus /
ISBN: 0425161293. OCLC Number:

Putnam's,. New York :. ©1990.

A small, exclusive college in upstate New York is nestled along the frozen shores of Lake Mohiga ... and directly across from a maximum-security prison. The two institutions manage to coexist peacefully, until 10,000 prisoners break out and head directly for the college.

Timequake /
ISBN: 0425164349. OCLC Number:

G.P. Putnam's,. New York :. ©1997.

A timequake throws the universe backwards and everyone has to relive the years 1991 to 2001, including the hero, a science fiction writer. By and large, people are not pleased by the development.

Canary in a cat house /
ISBN: 0899667570. OCLC Number:

Buccaneer Books,. Cutchogue, N.Y. :. ©1976.

Vonnegut's first collection of short stories, includes 12 wickedly funny stories told as only Vonnegut can.

Welcome to the monkey house :
ISBN: 0385333501. OCLC Number:

Delacorte Press,. New York :. 1968.

Tender stories of love, incisive essays on human greed and misery, and imaginative tales of futuristic happenings reveal Vonnegut's versatility and vision.

Bagombo snuff box :
ISBN: 0425174468. OCLC Number:

G.P. Putnam's Sons,. New York :. ©1999.

Twenty-three stories early in the writer's career. They range from Thanasphere, on an astronaut who hears the voices of the dead, to Runaways, in which teenage lovers learn you cannot live on love alone.

Armageddon in retrospect :
ISBN: 0399155082. OCLC Number:

G.P. Putnam's Sons,. New York :. ©2008.

Twelve previously unpublished writings on war and peace include such pieces as an essay on the destruction of Dresden, a story about the first-meal fantasies of three soldiers, and a meditation on the impossibility of shielding children from the temptations of violence.