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Lou Harry's A&E

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Arts & Entertainment, etc.

Enough Vonnegut?

January 25, 2011

In 2008, Putnam released "Armageddon in Retrospect," a collection of previous unpublished works by legendary writer/curmudgeon/Indy native son Kurt Vonnegut.

In 2009, Delacorte published "Look at the Birdie," a collection of previously unpublished short fiction by Vonnegut.

This month, thanks to the good folks at Delacorte, we are also seeing "While Mortals Sleep," another collection of unpublished Vonnegut fiction.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

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