Review: ‘A Man Without A Country’ by Kurt Vonnegut

Originally posted on Goodreads

This is the essence of Vonnegut. Perhaps not essential, to his more casual readers, but definitely his essence.

In it he strips the remaining layers from the ideas and themes that the stories in his novels are built around. Here thoughts on art, literature, music, life, war, our place in the world, and our interactions with each other are presented in their most distilled form, from a wise and beautiful mind.

In it, too, are searching passages about an increasing struggle to find humour in, to be able to joke about, the world. Vonnegut is “without a country” because all former sources of pride – except for librarians and a Chicago paper called In These Times – are being stripped away. War is making trillionaires of billionaires, scripture is taken in vain to justify atrocities, and governments – like addicts – are engaging in violent behaviour to get their last few fixes of the substances to which their countries are addicted.

But the core remains the same. Wisdom, effortless articulations of the most human concepts, and pleas to live lives that celebrate the good, the real, and the pure. Almost every passage is quotable. There is so little here that is not profound, all in the playful, sardonic voice that Vonnegut crafted over his illustrious career.

Deeply enjoyable. I wish I could have written him a letter.

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