And So It Goes by Charles J. Shields
Kurt Vonnegut: A Life

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Synopsis

A New York Times Notable Book for 2011



A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book for 2011





The first authoritative biography of Kurt Vonnegut Jr., a writer who changed the conversation of American literature.



In 2006, Charles Shields reached out to Kurt Vonnegut in a letter, asking for his endorsement for a planned biography. The first response was no ("A most respectful demurring by me for the excellent writer Charles J. Shields, who offered to be my biographer"). Unwilling to take no for an answer, propelled by a passion for his subject, and already deep into his research, Shields wrote again and this time, to his delight, the answer came back: "O.K." For the next year—a year that ended up being Vonnegut's last—Shields had access to Vonnegut and his letters.


And So It Goes is the culmination of five years of research and writing—the first-ever biography of the life of Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut resonates with readers of all generations from the baby boomers who grew up with him to high-school and college students who are discovering his work for the first time. Vonnegut's concise collection of personal essays, Man Without a Country, published in 2006, spent fifteen weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and has sold more than 300,000 copies to date. The twenty-first century has seen interest in and scholarship about Vonnegut's works grow even stronger, and this is the first book to examine in full the life of one of the most influential iconoclasts of his time.

 

About Charles J. Shields

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Charles J. Shields is the author of And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life, Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, the highly acclaimed, bestselling biography of Harper Lee, and I Am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers). He grew up in the Midwest and taught in a rural school in central Illinois for several years. He has been a reporter for public radio, a journalist, and the author of nonfiction books for young people. He and his wife live near Charlottesville, Virginia.
 
Published November 8, 2011 by Henry Holt and Co.. 529 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for And So It Goes

The New York Times

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“On the strength of Vonnegut’s reputation, ‘Breakfast of Champions’ spent a year on the best-seller lists,” Mr. Shields writes of that 1973 disappointment, “proving that he could indeed publish anything and make money.” Although he is clearly conversant with Kilgore Trout, Eliot Rosewater, Montan...

Nov 02 2011 | Read Full Review of And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut...

The New York Times

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Both their novels were numerically titled — Heller had to retitle his original “Catch-18” when Leon Uris brought out his “Mila 18.” In a detail that struck me as, well, weird, Vonnegut’s breakthrough moment while he was trying to get a handle on how to write his novel came during a visit...

Nov 25 2011 | Read Full Review of And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut...

Publishers Weekly

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Vonnegut initially refused to grant an interview to Shields (author of the bestselling Mockingbird), but then relented, enabling Shields to meet him during the last months of his life.

Aug 01 2011 | Read Full Review of And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut...

Examiner

Highly controversial, wildly successful, and totally irreverent, "Slaughterhouse Five" went on to push forward the anti-war movement in the United States in the middle of the Vietnam War, and cemented its author, Kurt Vonnegut, as one of the key spokesmen for the counterculture of the 1970s.

Jun 19 2012 | Read Full Review of And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut...

Los Angeles Times

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Biographer Charles Shields was hampered by the writer's death just at the start of the author's research.

Nov 13 2011 | Read Full Review of And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut...

Christian Science Monitor

The first serious biography of counterculture hero Kurt Vonnegut reveals a man wounded by his childhood and full of contradictions as an adult.

Dec 01 2011 | Read Full Review of And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut...

Washington Independent Review of Books

In what may be an appropriately Vonnegutian, darkly humorous or absurd turn of events, just hours after Shields conducted a personal interview with Vonnegut in his Manhattan apartment on March 14, 2007, Vonnegut fell down his front steps, sustaining an ultimately fatal head injury.

| Read Full Review of And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut...

San Francisco Chronicle

In the introduction to "Mother Night," his early novel about a supposed Nazi sympathizer, Kurt Vonnegut wrote, "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be."

Nov 27 2011 | Read Full Review of And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut...

Oregon Live

Shields, author of a Harper Lee biography, warns us in the introduction to "And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life," that it's the contrast between the artist and the art that intrigues him, explaining that after he met the writer, "my impression was that Kurt Vonnegut, humanist and champion of fa...

Nov 26 2011 | Read Full Review of And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut...

io9

And he's been blogging about Vonnegut for a while over at his Writing Kurt Vonnegut blog, which is well worth adding to your RSS.

Apr 28 2011 | Read Full Review of And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut...

Scholars And Rogues

Persisting with efforts of flattery and self-promotion, and receiving several intervening demurrals, Shields finally received a postcard from Vonnegut bearing a sketch of the author smoking a cigarette, under which appeared a simple message: “OK.” Vonnegut must have observed a little of himself ...

Jan 21 2012 | Read Full Review of And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut...

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