Thursday, 22 April 2010

Thanasphere Summary and Settings

Thanasphere” was first published in Collier’s weekly in September, 1950. The short story opens Vonnegut’s Bagombo Snuff Box, which features 24 short stories. Read on for a summary of “Thanasphere”, as well as information on the settings and locations mentioned in the short story.

Thanasphere Summary

The US Air Force sends Major Rice, a man with no family ties, 2000 miles above the earth to report on weather conditions. Both Dr Bernard Groszinger and Lieutenant General Franklin Dane are directing Rice on his mission and are present when Rice begins sending strange messages back to the base in Boston, Massachusetts. While in space, Rice begins seeing the deceased, “shimmering like northern lights”, including his wife Margaret and Dr Groszinger’s mother. Instead of returning safely to earth, Rice crashes his ship into the ocean. Rice’s final words before his transmissions are jammed are "If only you could see it, if—".

The Great Smokies: Launch pad of Major Rice

Part of the action in Kurt Vonnegut’s short story, “Thanasphere” takes place near the Great Smokies (otherwise known Great Smoky Mountains National Park). In particular, Sevier County in Tennessee is affected by Major Rice’s spacecraft, which is presumably launched from an “Air Force experimental station” located ten miles northwest of Elkmont, in the forest. This would place the Air Force base west(ish) of Caton:

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Timequake Summary and Settings: Locations Mentioned in Vonnegut’s Final Novel

Usually, these posts begin with a brief mention of how if you haven’t read the novel discussed in this post, it’s probably best to do so. That aside, please see below for a summary of Kurt Vonnegut’s Timequake, as well as information on the locations mentioned – including Kurt Vonnegut’s childhood home and the shelter which Kilgore Trout briefly stays in in the novel.

Timequake Summary

Timequake, published in 1997, was one of Kurt Vonnegut’s final books   and his final novel (God Bless You, Dr Kevorkian, amongst others, were  published later on). Timequake charts the “timequake” of the original novel, which sends humanity back in time, from 2001 to 1991, causing them to repeat their actions, with no say in the matter.

The novel also reveals the difficulty of writing “Timequake One”, with Vonnegut discussing throughout the different styles of both the aforementioned first version of the novel, as well as its successor, “Timequake Two”, which is the final, published version of the book. Timequake darts between the original story of Kilgore Trout as an unlikely savour of humanity, as well as anecdotes and autobiographical pieces from Vonnegut’s life.

American Academy of Arts and Letters – Home of “The Sisters B-36”

As explained in “Timequake Two”, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, on West 155th St, Manhattan, is the dumping ground of Kilgore Trout’s “The Sisters B-36 story”. The ominous American Academy of Arts and Letters building is also the home (well, work place) of a variety of characters, including Zoltan Pepper, Dudley Prince and Zoltan’s wife, Monica Pepper, who spray-painted “FUCK ART” across the Academy’s front door, in an effort “to make the place look as abandoned and looted as the ruins of Columbia University two miles to the south.”

Next door to the American Academy of Arts and Letters is the former Museum of the American Indian, which in the novel has been turned into a homeless shelter and currently houses Kilgore Trout. In fact, Trout and Monica Pepper are just separated by a “companion wall”. I’ve searched around for information on the homeless shelter and, from what I can find, the only homeless shelter (currently open) is the Church of the Intercession, on 550 West 155th Street. If you’d like to follow Kilgore’s route, then you can click here, or alternatively see if you can find your way using Google Streetview, beginning at the dumping spot of “The Sisters B-36”, the American Academy of Arts and Letters:

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Saturday, 10 April 2010

The Big Trip Up Yonder Summary and Locations

Technically, I’ve already diluted the purpose of this blog, as Kurt Vonnegut’s story, “The Big Trip Up Yonder” is indeed a short story and not a novel, so I hope no one minds the following coverage of it. First published in Galaxy, a science fiction magazine in January 1954, the mighty Project Gutenberg has decreed that the story isn’t copyrighted and thus available to download for free, here. I’d recommend you read the story first (it is after all, very short), but feel free to skip right ahead and visit some of the locations mentioned in the title.

The Big Trip Up Yonder Summary

In 2158 A.D, Old Gramps Ford and his sizeable family are all cooped together in their ramshackle Alden Village home, with Gramps regularly cutting members of the family who misbehave out of his last will and testament. One family member, Mortimer, or “Morty” cracks and pours half of Gramps’ anti-gerasone drug, which keeps everyone who takes it alive and kicking for hundreds of years (hence Gramps’ huge family; the youngest is 73) down to the drain. Another member of the family, Lou, catches Morty and proceeds to fill the bottle up again. After a series of unfortunate events, the bottle cracks and Gramps, believing Lou was trying to kill him, flees the home. Chaos ensues and the huge family is arrested. The story ends with Gramps returning to his home and the family members locked up (and enjoying the roominess) of prison.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Locations in God Bless you, Dr. Kevorkian

If you have yet to read Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless you, Dr. Kevorkian, then please bear in mind that this article contains information about the collection of short stories which may spoil/adjust your perception. This post offers a summary of God Bless you, Dr Kevorkian, as well as maps/Google Streetview images of some of the location's mentioned by Kurt Vonnegut in the short story collection.

God Bless you, Dr. Kevorkian Summary

God Bless you, Dr. Kevorkian was first published in 1999 and is a collection of short stories, published in order to help fund the public radio station, WNYC. The title discusses Vonnegut's trips to the "vacant lot between the far end of the tunnel and the Pearly Gates." Vonnegut meets both the recently deceased, such as Carla (sic) Faye Tucker, as well as Adolf Hitler and William Shakespeare.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Mother Night: Novel Settings and Locations

This post details some of the key locations in Kurt Vonnegut's Mother Night. If you have yet to read the novel, then there may be some information in here you'd prefer to find out on your own.

Mother Night Summary

Mother Night charts the life and times of Howard W Campbell Jr., an American born Nazi propagandist who also appears in Kurt Vonnegut's later novel, Slaughterhouse-Five. In Mother Night, Campbell acts as a narrator and details how after broadcasting propaganda for the Nazi's during the war, he becomes a resident of Greenwich Village, New York and finally, awaits trial for war crimes in "a nice new jail in Old Jerusalem". At the end of the novel, it's revealed that while Campbell would be granted freedom, as it could be proved he was working as a double-agent during WWII, Campbell hangs himself regardless, for "crimes against himself".

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Kurt Vonnegut Novel Settings: The Present and Future

As this blog post represents my meandering into the world of "blogging", perhaps I should bring something witty, informative and useful to the table. Fortunately for me, most writers have these skills well and truely squared off, so I'll simply discuss what I'd like to include in A Collection of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s Novel Settings and what I will, hopefully, get around to typing out.

As the "About" section of this blog suggests, I aim for this small space on the internet to be home to a variety of information about the locations, cities and streets in Kurt Vonnegut's novels. Ideally, I'll begin with the big guns, namely Ilium, New York, home to Doctor Paul Proteus and others, as well as Midland City, the land of Deadeye Dick's, draino swigging Celia's and of course, Dwayne/Wayne Hoover/Hoobler. Honestly though, who knows how this lovely little project will turn out?

Thank you for reading, God bless.