Palm Sunday (Magill's Literary Annual 1982)
A native of Indianapolis, Kurt Vonnegut grew up in the heart of “middle America” and has been characterized as “good old Dad from Indiana.” Age fifty-six when Palm Sunday was published, he is looking back on a long life and looking around at the life that is the lot of Americans. He finds the values of middle American ways a distortion of life as it should be lived. In this respect, he is a descendent of Henry David Thoreau; and perhaps for that reason and the fact that his writing is always engaging and even humorous, he has served as a culture hero for the young from the early 1960’s when his work was widely read among college students. In an interview, he has said that he writes out of wanting his readers “to stop hating and start thinking.” He thinks the planet is in danger and wants to create “an image of life that is beautiful and surprising and deep.” His contribution to American life has been to entertain his readers with a simple-sounding yet wise and ironic voice that highlights the blunders and major blemishes of our culture. His views, if adopted, would supply his readers with a humane and enduring vision of life for an uncertain future. This is why his mordant wit is popular. At root, his effect is positive.
Vonnegut says he has a “stubborn simplicity.” Simple he might seem, but he is preoccupied with helping...
(The entire section is 2449 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1982)
The Atlantic Monthly. CCXLVII, April, 1981, p. 124.
Business Week. XI, March 8, 1981, p. 6.
Choice. XIX, September, 1981, p. 84.
Library Journal. CVI, February 15, 1981, p. 454.
Nation. CCXXXII, March 21, 1981, p. 346.
National Review. XXXIII, May 1, 1981, p. 499.
The New York Times Book Review. LXXXVI, March 15, 1981, p. 3.
Saturday Review. VIII, March, 1981, p. 77.
Times Literary Supplement. June 19, 1981, p. 692.
Virginia Quarterly Review. LVII, Summer, 1981, p. 98.
(The entire section is 54 words.)