Yet an interesting point Shields mentions is how in the 1950s there were about thirty literary agents, all which were men. Now, there are hundreds upon hundreds, with about eighty-five percent of those women. Had Vonnegut lived now rather than then, he would have no doubt struggled to find an agent, even with his work in top form, since his books don’t cater to the touchy-feely dumbed down MFA hackwork that literary agents favor. Vonnegut was very fortunate to have been able to live off his writing, for plenty of quality writers were unable to in their day (such as Melville and Kafka). And, of course, with fame came a sense of entitlement, best shown in Vonnegut’s various infidelities.
And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life is a solid enough biography, but I advise that there’s no better way to know an artist than to examine the work itself. Kurt Vonnegut is not the cranky old man, but he is Slaughterhouse-Five, Galapagos, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater and Breakfast of Champions, just to name a few. Yet those recognizing the value of his work will not need convincing.
This review is based upon an advanced reader’s addition.