Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday Treat #17: A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut

There have been times when I have a bought a book on a whim. Something drew it to me and I felt like I just needed to read it. A Man Without a Country was one such book. It was not like anything I had read before and to this day, I find myself recommending it often.

A Man Without a Country is the closest thing to an autobiography that Vonnegut ever wrote. It is a collection is his thoughts on a world that is drastically different than the one he grew up in. His trademark humor and sarcasm drips throughout his words and creates some pretty memorable moments.

While I picked up the book on night in a fit of having "nothing to read" the book has become a companion in times when I need comfort. It is a little weird to say that about Vonnegut. I ended up staying up a little later than usual to finish the volume (it is 145 pages). It was worth every moment and I have numerous passages bookmarked.

To give you a little taste of what is in store for you:

"I think that novels that leave out technology misrepresent life as badly as Victorians misrepresented life by leaving out sex."

"Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college."

"We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."

"Humor is a way of holding off how awful life can be."

"If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don't have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I'm not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."

Throughout all of this volume, you get to see inside the head of a great man who had a lot to say, and who felt, at times, very isolated from the people around him and country he called home. Whether or not you agree with his strong religious views, you cannot doubt that the man makes points, in a sarcastic way, that also make you question your own views.

I have carried this little novel with me many places. In moments where I feel weak, I like to read Vonnegut's words and see him wagging his finger at me, especially in rough moments where I feel like nothing is going my way.

If you love Vonnegut, this will only deepen your love, but if you hate his writing, this may not be the book for you. Either way, it is a book I will always hold on to, and re-read as much as I can.


  1. Great thoughts! I've never really considered this one, but I think I will now :)

  2. This is one of my favorites. There's something about Vonnegut's humor that just gets to me.

  3. seriously, you're making want to read his works asap! I loved the quotes!

  4. Hi Allie,
    I just discovered your blog when Park Benches & Bookends mentioned the Cranford readalong. I'd like to join in but I'll have to see if my library has it. I'm enjoying looking through your list and discovering some gems! This Vonnegut sounds like a treasure. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I've never read Vonnegut, but I really liked the quotes you mentioned, so I really want to go and read this now.