Archive for the ‘Kurt Vonnegut’ Category

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (Audio Book)

October 5, 2008

From Publisher’s Weekly
Vonnegut’s 1963 satirical science fiction novel still manages to pack a powerfully subversive punch. The new audio release offers listeners an excellent opportunity to connect—or reconnect—with a classic text whose thematic elements—nuclear terror, the complications of science, American imperialism, global capitalism and the role of religion in public life—are remarkably relevant to our 21st-century landscape. The story line centers on a young writer’s quest to research the history of the atomic bomb, which leads to a bizarre political soap opera and apocalyptic showdown on the shores of a seedy banana republic in the Caribbean. Tony Roberts brings tremendous energy to his reading, projecting a sardonic tone perfectly suited to Vonnegut. His portrayals of the principal male figures sometimes take the form of interchangeable over-the-top carnival barkers, but given the essence of the material, such a unnuanced approach can be understood and appreciated. The audiobook includes a 2005 interview in which Vonnegut—who died April 11, 2007—discusses how his life shaped his literary craft.

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Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (Audio Book)

October 1, 2008

Amazon.com Review
Kurt Vonnegut’s absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut’s) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden. Don’t let the ease of reading fool you–Vonnegut’s isn’t a conventional, or simple, novel. He writes, “There are almost no characters in this story, and almost no dramatic confrontations, because most of the people in it are so sick, and so much the listless playthings of enormous forces. One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters…” Slaughterhouse-Five (taken from the name of the building where the POWs were held) is not only Vonnegut’s most powerful book, it is as important as any written since 1945. Like Catch- 22, it fashions the author’s experiences in the Second World War into an eloquent and deeply funny plea against butchery in the service of authority. Slaughterhouse-Five boasts the same imagination, humanity, and gleeful appreciation of the absurd found in Vonnegut’s other works, but the book’s basis in rock-hard, tragic fact gives it a unique poignancy–and humor.

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Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut (Audio Book)

October 1, 2008

Amazon.com Review
“We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane.” So reads the tombstone of downtrodden writer Kilgore Trout, but we have no doubt who’s really talking: his alter ego Kurt Vonnegut. Health versus sickness, humanity versus inhumanity–both sets of ideas bounce through this challenging and funny book. As with the rest of Vonnegut’s pure fantasy, it lacks the shimmering, fact-fueled rage that illuminates Slaughterhouse-Five. At the same time, that makes this book perhaps more enjoyable to read. Breakfast of Champions is a slippery, lucid, bleakly humorous jaunt through (sick? inhumane?) America circa 1973, with Vonnegut acting as our Virgil-like companion. The book follows its main character, auto-dealing solid-citizen Dwayne Hoover, down into madness, a condition brought on by the work of the aforementioned Kilgore Trout. As Dwayne cracks, then crumbles, Breakfast of Champions coolly shows the effects his dementia has on the web of characters surrounding him. It’s not much of a plot, but it’s enough for Vonnegut to air unique opinions on America, sex, war, love, and all of his other pet topics–you know, the only ones that really count.

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