EppsNet Archive: Kurt Vonnegut

EppsNet Book Reviews: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque


This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war. Mission accomplished! Remarque was a German author born Eric Paul Remark, changed his last name to a French spelling and adopted his mother’s middle name, Maria, as his own. It says on the cover “The GREATEST WAR NOVEL of ALL TIME.” I can’t think of a better one. The Red Badge of Courage is really good. The Emigrants is remarkable but I’d have to put it in a different category, a post-war novel. Regeneration is very good. Catch-22 and From Here to Eternity I couldn’t even get all the way through either one of… Read more →

Huckleberry Finn Banned Again


A Pennsylvania high school has removed Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from its 11th-grade curriculum after complaints from students who said they were made “uncomfortable” by the novel. The school’s principal defended the decision to remove the book from the curriculum. “I do not believe that we’re censoring,” he said. “I really do believe that this is an opportunity for the school to step forward and listen to the students.” He went on to add, “War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.” Because if suppression of material you deem objectionable is not censoring, what is? As Kurt Vonnegut used to say, “Have somebody read the First Amendment to the United States Constitution out loud to you, you God damned fool!” Read more →

Not Enough Information?


Bertrand Russell declared that, in case he met God, he would say to Him, “Sir, you did not give us enough information.” I would add to that, “All the same, Sir, I’m not persuaded that we did the best we could with the information we had. Toward the end there, anyway, we had tons of information.” — Kurt Vonnegut, Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage Read more →

Any time I see a person fleeing from reason and into religion, I think to myself, There goes a person who simply cannot stand being so goddamn lonely anymore. — Kurt Vonnegut

EppsNet Book Reviews: The Known World by Edward P. Jones


I bought this book and read it because it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. See, it says so right there on the cover: “Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.” Did you know there was a time in our country’s history when black people were bought and sold as property, sometimes by other black people? And did you also know that 15 minutes could save you 15 percent or more on car insurance? Human slavery is deplorable, yes, but at this late date, can it be deplored any more than it has been already? If you have new depths of insight into the hearts and minds of the participants, by all means offer them, but Jones doesn’t have them. Reading The Known World is like reading a history book, albeit with a little more authorial contempt for some of the characters. It’s customary in book reviews to mention authors whose work… Read more →

I am a humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without any expectation of rewards or punishments after I’m dead. — Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

You Are Not Alone


Many people need desperately to receive this message: “I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people don’t care about them. You are not alone.” — Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake Read more →

Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops. — Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

Liberals and Conservatives


If you want to take my guns away from me, and you’re all for murdering fetuses, and love it when homosexuals marry each other, and want to give them kitchen appliances at their showers, and you’re for the poor, you’re a liberal. If you are against those perversions and for the rich, you’re a conservative. What could be simpler? — Kurt Vonnegut Read more →



“Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before,” Bokonon tells us. “He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way.” — Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle Read more →

How Are Things Going?


You go up to a man, and you say, “How are things going, Joe?” and he says, “Oh fine, fine — couldn’t be better.” And you look into his eyes, and you see things really couldn’t be much worse. When you get right down to it, everybody’s having a perfectly lousy time of it, and I mean everybody. And the hell of it is, nothing seems to help much. — Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan Read more →

A Half-Assed Job of Anything


It’s enough to make you cry to see how bad most people are at their jobs. If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you’re a one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind. — Kurt Vonnegut, Player Piano Read more →

Facebook is Crushing My Will to Live


Several ordinary life stories, if told in rapid succession, tend to make life look far more pointless than it really is, probably. — Kurt Vonnegut, Palm Sunday To update that quote for modern times, replace “ordinary life stories, if told” with “Facebook status updates, if read.” Oh the vapidity . . . Read more →

Responses to Tragedy


Dinesh DiSouza, a noted conservative pundit, was moved in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings to say this: Only the language of religion seems appropriate to the magnitude of tragedy. Only God seems to have the power to heal hearts in such circumstances. . . . Atheism seems to have nothing to say to people when there is serious bereavement or tragedy. That’s not true. For example, one famous atheist response to tragedy is this: So it goes. DiSouza also forgot to add that if you leave out platitudes, pleasant myths and happily-ever-after fairy tales, religion has nothing to say to people either . . . Read more →

Santayana: “I Told You So”


Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. — George Santayana   “Is that a fact?” she said. “Well–I’ve got news for Mr. Santayana: we’re doomed to repeat the past no matter what. That’s what it is to be alive. It’s pretty dense kids who haven’t figured that out by the time they’re ten.” “Santayana was a famous philosopher at Harvard,” said Slazinger, a Harvard man. And Mrs. Berman said, “Most kids can’t afford to go to Harvard to be misinformed.” — Kurt Vonnegut, Bluebeard Read more →

Fun With Obituaries


Several ordinary life stories, if told in rapid succession, tend to make life look far more pointless than it really is, probably. — Kurt Vonnegut Is that a fact? Let’s try it and see! Here are some excerpts from this week’s obituaries in the Irvine World News: Read more →

Teaching Kids to Write


Having students write essays about books accomplishes three things. It makes them hate writing, because it’s such a fruitless, uninteresting assignment. It makes them hate reading, because even books they enjoy are turned against them. And it probably makes them hate thinking, because the kind of analysis they’re forced to do is so strained and dull. — Joseph Weisberg Read more →