Unstuck in Time: A Journey Through Kurt Vonnegut's Life and Novels

Gregory D Sumner, Author
Gregory D. Sumner. Seven Stories, $24.95 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-60980-349-0
Open Ebook - 250 pages - 978-1-60980-360-5
Paperback - 355 pages - 978-1-60980-430-5
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Named for the mental dislocation experienced by Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse-Five, Sumner's exploration of the iconic writer's life begins with a brief biography and an outline of the recurrent themes found throughout his 14 novels. The significant elements include Vonnegut's preoccupation with technology, which stems from his scientific studies at Cornell and later work at General Electric, and his penchant for stories reminiscent of his experience as a soldier and POW during WWII. Fourteen chapters follow, providing plot, background, and analysis for each of Vonnegut's books. Other notable tendencies discussed were the reuse of Midland City, Ohio, and the recycling of minor characters in major roles, such as the constant presence across novels of Kilgore Trout, the science fiction author who appears in all 14, who is finally given the leading role in the author's final novel, Timequake. Sumner does well to contextualize contemporary events both in the world and the writer's personal life during each novel's conception, ultimately connecting many dots in the Vonnegut oeuvre. (Nov.)
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