Monday, August 08, 2011

Kurt Vonnegut

I was astonished to learn that a high school district in Republic, Missouri, has banned Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five.  A 2010 complaint in the Republic School District said it spread "false conceptions of American history and government or that teach principles contrary to Biblical morality and truth." 

Missouri must be the new literary capital of the world.

Vonnegut is controversial.  Some dislike the meta-fictional elements in his work. For instance, in a book group I belong to, people hated the meta-fictional techniques in Timequake, a clever autobiographical novel in which Vonnegut himself is a character, a blocked writer who has been writing Timequake for ten years, and his alter-ego, Trout Kilgore, a failed science fiction writer, accidentally becomes a hero and is worshipped in a literary colony.  (In the novel, timequakes cause people in 2001 to repeat everything they did in 1991.)  Trout Kilgore  appears in several of Vonnegut's other novels, too, including Slaughterhouse-Five. 

Well, the students of Republic won't be reading Vonnegut in school.

But the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis is fighting back. They say they will send a free copy of Slaughterhouse-Five to 150 Republic High School students who email the website.  The Vonnegut Memorial Library is also looking for donors to pay for postage.

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