Tag Archives: Kurt Vonnegut

Does this mean I have juice with the Library of America?

Now that’s what I like to see — results. I blog about how Kurt Vonnegut deserves to be enshrined with his own Library of America volume, and see what happens. Nice going, guys!

Now let’s see some motion on those other writers I mentioned. Would it speed things along if I reminded everyone that Vonnegut was a big fan of John D. MacDonald? I should hope so.

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Friday finds

Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling sat down in 1970 with author and academic James Gunn as part of Gunn’s series “Science Fiction in Literature.” This footage, never released, was recently re-synched with an audio track. The results are technically highly variable, but the content is fascinating to anyone interested in Serling’s work or science fiction in general. I particularly appreciate Serling’s avowed respect for the SF genre, all the more striking for the fact that the interview took place well before science fiction was considered respectable by most critics — or commercially viable by Hollywood. Contrast Serling’s name-checking of recognized SF authors with the pretentious evasions of a certain filmmaker who made immense amounts of money strip-mining the work of his betters.

Thomas Ricks lists the best books about George Waterboard Bush’s excellent Iraqi adventure. Imperial Life in the Emerald City is the only one I’ve heard of, much less read.

Cage match! The Big Chill vs. Return of the Secaucus Seven.

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness adapted as a graphic novel.

Attention, Kurt Vonnegut fans! In response to my post about the 1972 broadcast of Between Time and Timbuktu, a friend scouted out the complete show on Tudou. I’ll have to see if the decades have been kind to it.

North Wind, a journal devoted to the study of pioneering fantasy author George MacDonald, has put its entire archive online. Tolkien fans may be interested in Jason Fisher’s essay (PDF) on MacDonald’s influence on the Don’s early writings, and how he eventually fell out of favor with Tolkien.

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Friday finds

Miskatonic University Embroidered PatchWant to give this year’s Halloween celebration a Lovecraftian flavor? Then Propnomicon is the site for you.

Now here’s somebody who really does it up brown for Halloween. The Martian invasion alone must have required a second mortgage.

A Chicago boy, Roger Ebert, writes about another Chicago boy, James T. Farrell.

Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut, and the wages of literary fame.

An evolved writer and thinker talks about evolution.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tax returns. John Scalzi considers the economics of the writing market in Fitzgerald’s era, as does Walter Jon Williams.

Writing the life of a writer who has already written his life quite well.

More than most writers, James Tiptree Jr. lived by silence, exile, and cunning — or, in this case, like an opossum.

A close encounter of the Pauline Kael kind.

Naturally, “Low Rider” deserves the top spot for any list of the “Top 10 Cowbell Songs.” But where the hell is “Mississippi Queen”?

Inspired film geekery over at Trailers From Hell, which gives directors a chance to riff about their favorite movies over the trailers for said movies. You get Eli Roth giving mad props to Forbidden Planet, Bill Duke singing the praises of The Spook Who Sat By the Door, Allison Anders rocking out to Privilege, and Larry Cohen getting paranoid over the original Invaders from Mars.

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From ‘X’ to ‘R’ for ‘5’

My appreciation for Kurt Vonnegut’s writing is pretty much confined to his essays and his earlier novels, but this AbeBooks showcase of signed and collectible Vonnegut works has a very intriguing item indeed: a pair of draft screenplays for George Roy Hill’s 1972 film version of Slaughterhouse-Five, along with a letter from the MPAA ratings board listing changes required to bring the film in with an “R” rating instead of the dreaded “X.” It’s pretty funny to think of any version of Slaughterhouse-Five getting hit with an “X” or an “NC-17” or any other kind of five-alarm rating nowadays, but remember that only a couple of years earlier Midnight Cowboy had gone out with an “X,” and Stanley Kubrick had been forced to recut A Clockwork Orange to get its initial “X” rating reduced. So the world had to be kept safe from the sight of Valerie Perrine’s boobs.

I’m not interested enough to park nearly four grand in the seller’s bank account, but I would like to see some of the changes made during the film’s development. Not only is the Hill-Geller version of Slaughterhouse-Five greatly superior to the novel (a fact Vonnegut himself acknowledged), but it’s also a model of how to adapt a dodgy prose work for the silver screen. Everything in the film is perfect — I wouldn’t change a single frame.

Hill tends to get overlooked by film buffs because, like Carol Reed, he adapted his style to the material at hand, rather than the other way around. And the man was a class act. With the bucks from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid still rolling in, Hill used his box-office cred to make a demanding art-house film with an unpopular philosophical outlook, no big-name stars, and a deliberately subdued and colorless lead performance. I watched it again a few months ago and it holds up quite nicely — certainly much better than “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.”

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