Kurt Vonnegut is an impressive author who combines comic fiction and social satire in his novels. He often writes about the main character Kilgore Trout, who seems to be more like Vonnegut’s alter ego. He has written many books including Player Piano, Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse Five, Galapagos, Bluebeard, and Fates Worse Than Death. Kurt Vonnegut was born November 11, 1922 in Indianapolis Indiana. His parents were Kurt Vonnegut Sr. and Edith Leiber.
He graduated from Shortridge High School in Indianapolis where he was editor of the school newspaper. After graduation in 1940, he moved on to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York where he took classes for biochemistry. In 1942, he enlisted in the army as an Infantry Battalion Scout. Later he was trained by Carnegie Institute and University of Tennessee to become a mechanical engineer. In 1944, Kurt’s mother committed suicide on May 14. He returns home briefly, then was captured in the Battle of the Bulge.
While working in a factory in Dresden, Germany, Vonnegut picked up his materials for Slaughterhouse Five. After this he married Jane Mary Cox on September 1, 1945. Working as a police reporter, he studied Anthropology at the University of Chicago, but his thesis was rejected. In 1947, his son Mark was born, later, in 1949 his daughter Edith. He then became a publicist for General Electric in Schenectady, New York, but in 1950 he quit GE, and moved to Cape Cod to write. He published Player Piano in 1952. His third child, Nanette was born in 1954.
Between 1954 and 1956 he taught English at Hopefield school, worked for an ad agency, and opened the very first Saab dealership in the great United States. Next, Kurt was rocked with a number of close deaths. His father passed away in 1957 on October 1, his sister and his brother-in-law die in 1958. He then adopted his three oldest nieces and nephews. Kurt still found time to write and Cat’s Cradle was published in 1962. From 1965 to 1967, he took up a residency at University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop and published Pearls Before Swine.
Vonnegut wanted a closer look in Dresden before he wrote the novel Slaughterhouse Five, to he went back to Dresden on a Guggenheim Fellowship. He finished the novel in 1969. His education was furthered after he taught creative writing at Harvard and received his master’s degree from University of Chicago for Cat’s Cradle. A terrible tragedy then struck the Vonnegut family, Kurt’s son Mark had a schizophrenic breakdown.
However in that same year, 1972, Kurt was elected to vice president of P. E. N. , and became a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. He went back to teaching college courses in 1973 and was appointed Distinguished Professor of English Prose by University of New York; closely following this honor was another. In 1974, he was decked with the Honorary Doctorate of Literature by Hobart and William Smith College. 1979 was a very busy year for Mr. Vonnegut; he divorced his first wife and remarries to Jill Kremetz on November 24, he also published Jailbird.
After publishing a few more articles and stories, Vonnegut becomes drastic and in 1982 he attempted suicide. Since then he has been a public speaker and still is publishing works. 1991 began his happiness, he divorced Jill and was once again free. Player Piano is the novel I read a selection from. It is a fantastic book about a man who seemingly has it all, but is losing his mind. “What kind of nut was he (Paul Proteus, the main character) anyway? And what kind of nutty place was his America? ” -Player Piano.
It is an intriguing story of the machine driven nation being brought to its knees by a man who quit his perfect job, left his beautiful wife, and turned his back on his splendid future. Some of Kurt Vonnegut’s other novels deal with the character known as Kilgore Trout. This character seems to act out on issues the way Vonnegut wants to deep down inside, but never does. Kilgore is the alter ego of the pent up Kurt Vonnegut; it is extremely interesting to read about how Vonnegut really feels. Vonnegut is a great author and I hope he comes out with some more fantastic novels before he passes on.