Enough Vonnegut?

January 25, 2011
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

In 2008, Putnam released "Armageddon in Retrospect," a collection of previous unpublished works by legendary writer/curmudgeon/Indy native son Kurt Vonnegut.

In 2009, Delacorte published "Look at the Birdie," a collection of previously unpublished short fiction by Vonnegut.

This month, thanks to the good folks at Delacorte, we are also seeing "While Mortals Sleep," another collection of unpublished Vonnegut fiction.

And so it goes.

As a reader of just about everything that Vonnegut wanted to be published in his lifetime, I have mixed feelings about the Tupac-like influx of posthumous releases.

On the one hand, Vonnegut was great at what he did and I understand the desire of fans to see "new" work, of academics to want to see it all, and of publishers to make more money.

On the other hand, any of this work could have been published in the writer's lifetime--if he wanted it to be.

If the writer chose to keep these in a drawer, should we respect that? By putting the work between covers,  we make it part of the canon. But, at some point, doesn't the release of such material water down the rest?

In Vonnegut terms: Are those pushing everything the man wrote into bookstores part of a karrass or a granfalloon?

Your thoughts?
 

ADVERTISEMENT
  • Of Course
    Anything that Mark Vonnegut deems worthy of releasing is OK with me. Lou, if you don't want to read this material then send your review copy to me. I could save a little money that way.
  • I concur
    If Mark Vonnegut (a talented writer in his own right, check out "Eden Express") is approving these for publication, I trust his judgement.
  • More is better
    I think it's almost always a good idea to get unreleased writing, music, video, etc. out there for the public to experience. If Kurt did not want this stuff to be released after his death he could have easily prevented it by either legal means, a promise from his family, or just by simply destroying it. The fact that he apparently did none of the three (and was smart enough to know things like this would come out after his death) tells you he most likely didn't mind it being released at some point.

    Just because someone didn't want something released while they were a working artist doesn't mean they always want it hidden away forever.
  • posthumous publications
    Franz Kafka would be a minor author with very little output, if his own wishes had been obeyed not to publish anything not already published in his lifetime.
  • More and more and more Vonnegut
    Thanks for covering Vonnegut. Vonnegut sometimes spent years and years editing one of his books before he was truly finished with it so it doesn't surprise me that unfinished stories continue to be found. We are fortunate that Vonnegut's great friend Don Farber, his children, and others are sharing these new stories with us. Cheers
  • Yeah, but No
    It's a valid point, but I agree 100% with points made here by IndyTodd and Sassafras. There is simply no way KV didn't consider the possibility of post-Kurt publishing. Bring it.
  • Apparent Consensus
    May I add that we wouldn't have The Aeneid had it been destroyed as Virgil instructed.
  • Postumous Work
    There's a whole list of notable work published with or without the express consent of the deceased. My two most notable: "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole and the complete writings of Emily Dickinson.

    Perhaps our best example is J.D. Salinger. He died one year ago, and many people speculated (yearned) for unpublished manuscripts to appear.

    Kurt Vonnegut was 84 when he left us, and he had every opportunity to express his wishes with his family and solicitor. Just like his work purposely published during his lifetime, we can judge the worth and significance of his posthumous work. By the way, I particularly found some of the war essays in "Armageddon in Retrospect" very moving and poignant.
  • Canon?
    "By putting the work between covers, we make it part of the canon." This need not be the case, and would be a poor reason for deciding to make them available or not. This work is just writing, and can lend insight into the mind of a great thinker. It would be sad not to make this available to regular folks, rather than some level of scholar. But readers may want to keep in mind the distinctions you make, for all authors.

Post a comment to this blog

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
  1. Of what value is selling alcoholic beverages to State Fair patrons when there are many families with children attending. Is this the message we want to give children attending and participating in the Fair, another venue with alooholic consumption onsite. Is this to promote beer and wine production in the state which are great for the breweries and wineries, but where does this end up 10-15 years from now, lots more drinkers for the alcoholic contents. If these drinks are so important, why not remove the alcohol content and the flavor and drink itself similar to soft drinks would be the novelty, not the alcoholic content and its affects on the drinker. There is no social or material benefit from drinking alcoholic beverages, mostly people want to get slightly or highly drunk.

  2. I did;nt know anyone in Indiana could count- WHY did they NOT SAY just HOW this would be enforced? Because it WON;T! NOW- with that said- BIG BROTHER is ALIVE in this Article-why take any comment if it won't appease YOU PEOPLE- that's NOT American- with EVERYTHING you indicated is NOT said-I can see WHY it say's o Comments- YOU are COMMIES- BIG BROTHER and most likely- voted for Obama!

  3. In Europe there are schools for hairdressing but you don't get a license afterwards but you are required to assist in turkey and Italy its 7 years in japan it's 10 years England 2 so these people who assist know how to do hair their not just anybody and if your an owner and you hire someone with no experience then ur an idiot I've known stylist from different countries with no license but they are professional clean and safe they have no license but they have experience a license doesn't mean anything look at all the bad hairdressers in the world that have fried peoples hair okay but they have a license doesn't make them a professional at their job I think they should get rid of it because stateboard robs stylist and owners and they fine you for the dumbest f***ing things oh ur license isn't displayed 100$ oh ur wearing open toe shoes fine, oh there's ONE HAIR IN UR BRUSH that's a fine it's like really? So I think they need to go or ease up on their regulations because their too strict

  4. Exciting times in Carmel.

  5. Twenty years ago when we moved to Indy I was a stay at home mom and knew not very many people.WIBC was my family and friends for the most part. It was informative, civil, and humerous with Dave the KING. Terri, Jeff, Stever, Big Joe, Matt, Pat and Crumie. I loved them all, and they seemed to love each other. I didn't mind Greg Garrison, but I was not a Rush fan. NOW I can't stand Chicks and all their giggly opinions. Tony Katz is to abrasive that early in the morning(or really any time). I will tune in on Saturday morning for the usual fun and priceless information from Pat and Crumie, mornings it will be 90.1

ADVERTISEMENT