The picture quality is terrible for this review, but fitting for the way I read the book. Most of the book was consumed in a poorly lit bar. I read until words became blurry, consuming most of the novel in that sitting. Fates Worse Than Death is the third in a series of what Vonnegut called autobiographical collages, a collection of writings that were a blend of essays and personal anecdotes all done in that undeniable Vonnegut voice.
For me I’ll always prefer Vonnegut novels although there is something to be said about his short stories as well. With that said, this collection was highly enjoyable and quite thought-provoking. Vonnegut covers such a wide range of topics but the collection spends a lot of time around the topic of death. The suicides of various family members and friends come across time and again, as does his own attempt. His time in WWII, especially behind a prisoner at Dresden during the unfortunate bombing is another reoccurring throughout. Although anyone familiar with Vonnegut shouldn’t be surprised about that.
It’s tough to summarize Kurt Vonnegut, the man had a mind and a voice that was familiar while at the same time like no one else you’ve ever read. That comes through loudly in Fates Worse Than Death as it does in all his works. A lot of what is contained in the book had been published elsewhere as he uses lengthy bits of pieces he’s had published in various papers and magazines along with speeches he’s given to address his points. At times, the essays run on too long because of it and honestly, in the middle, they blur together. I think that unless you are looking to be a Vonnegut completest this is one that can be skipped. I gave it 3.5 stars but truthfully it gained a star because of how much I love Vonnegut and possibly because of the setting where I started the book as well.
I’m pairing this with Hop God from Nebraska Brewing Company and it pairs pretty perfectly with this Vonnegut collection since it is a collage of styles with a unique flavor. Hop God is a Belgian IPA that was aged in a Chardonnay barrel. A Belgian IPA in itself is an interesting look at the traditional IPA but factor in the aging process in the Chardonnay barrel and it is something completely different just like Vonnegut. Even the bottle, a 22-ounce beer bottle is a blend of a beer and wine bottle. On a slightly morbid note that I think Kurt Vonnegut would appreciate, he has one other big thing in common with the beer, both are discontinued.
“It is tough to make unhappy people happier unless they need something easily prescribed, such as food or shelter.”
“You cannot be a good writer of serious fiction if you are not depressed.”
“Liberty is only now being born in the United States. It wasn’t born in 1776. Slavery was legal. Even white women were powerless, essentially the property of their father or husband or closest male relative, or maybe a judge or lawyer.”
“Am I too pessimistic about life a hundred years from now? Maybe I have spent too much time with scientists and not enough time with speechwriters for politicians.”
“We probably could have saved ourselves, but were too damned lazy to try very hard”
Format: Trade Paperback.