From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) was an American novelist known for works blending satire, black comedy, and dystopian science fiction, such as Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), Cat's Cradle (1963), and Breakfast of Champions (1973).
In some of Kurt Vonnegut's novels, when somebody dies, Vonnegut does not call it dying. He writes that this person had their "peephole closed" and when they are born, they simply have their "peephole opened".
In his book Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction, Vonnegut listed eight rules for writing a short story:
- Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
- Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
- Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
- Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
- Start as close to the end as possible.
- Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
- Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
- Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
Vonnegut qualifies the list by adding that Flannery O'Connor broke all these rules except the first, and that great writers tend to do that. He wrote an earlier version of writing tips that was even more straightforward and contained only seven rules (though it advised using Elements of Style for more indepth advice).
In "The Sexual Revolution", Chapter 18 of his book Palm Sunday, Vonnegut grades his own works. He states that the grades "do not place me in literary history" and that he is comparing "myself with myself." The grades are as follows:
- Player Piano: B
- The Sirens of Titan: A
- Mother Night: A
- Cat's Cradle: A-plus
- God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A
- Slaughterhouse-Five: A-plus
- Welcome to the Monkey House: B-minus
- Happy Birthday, Wanda June: D
- Breakfast of Champions: C
- Slapstick: D
- Jailbird: A
- Palm Sunday: C
The following is a complete list of literary works by the late author Kurt Vonnegut.
- Player Piano (1952) ISBN 978-1-14-183422-8 - published as Utopia 14 in 1954, published again as Player Piano in 1966
- The Sirens of Titan (1959) ISBN 0-385-28923-5
- Mother Night (1961) ISBN 0-385-33414-1
- Cat's Cradle (1963) ISBN 0-385-33348-X
- God bless you, Mr. Rosewater; or, Pearls Before Swine (1965) ISBN 0-385-28335-0
- Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) ISBN 0-385-31208-3
- Breakfast of Champions; or, Goodbye Blue Monday! (1973) ISBN 0-385-28089-0
- Slapstick; or, Lonesome No More! (1976) ISBN 0-385-28944-8
- Jailbird (1979) ISBN 0-385-28627-9
- Deadeye Dick (1982) ISBN 0-440-01780-7
- Galápagos: A Novel (1985) ISBN 0-385-29420-4
- Bluebeard The Autobiography of Rabo Karabekian (1916-1988) (1987) ISBN 0-385-29590-1
- Hocus Pocus (1990) ISBN 0-399-13799-8
- Timequake (1997) ISBN 0-399-13737-8
- Canary in a Cathouse (1961) - short stories
- Welcome to the Monkey House (1968) - short stories
- Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons (opinions) (1974) - essays, assorted works
- Palm Sunday (1981) - short stories, essays, assorted works
- Nothing is lost save honor (1984) - essays
- Fates Worse than Death : an Autobiographical Collage (1990) ISBN 978-0-42-513406-1 of the 1980s - essays, assorted works
- Bagombo Snuff Box (1999) ISBN 0-399-14505-2 - short stories
- God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian (1999) - fictional interviews
- A Man Without a Country (2005) ISBN 1-58322-713-X, ISBN 0-7475-8406-0 - essays, edited by Daniel Simon
- Penelope (1960) - revised as Happy Birthday, Wanda June in 1970
- Between Time and Timbuktu; or, Prometheus-5: a Space Fantasy (1972) - National Educational Television Network. Based on materials by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Designed by Joel Schick with photos. by Jill Krementz and from the NET playhouse production.
- Requiem (1987) - music by Edgar David Grana
- Make Up Your Mind (1993)
- Miss Temptation (1993) - adapted by David Cooperman
- L'Histoire du Soldat (1993) - an adaptation