Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Slaughterhouse Five Adaptation by Action! Theatre Company

Action! Theatre Company, a theatrical group based in Los Angeles, is currently performing an adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. The show, which stars Don Schlossman as Billy Pilgrim and Lily Vonnegut as Montana Wildhack, is nearing the end of its run at the Studio Stage Theatre in LA. Adapted by Eric Simonson, the play stays true to the novel, presenting the fractured timeline of Billy Pilgrim as he travels between Dresden, Ilium and the Planet Tralfamadore.

Reviews of Simonson’s Slaughterhouse Five have been on the whole positive. However, Neal Weaver of BackStage.com has noted that the expansive subject matter of Vonnegut’s novel does put some “strain” on the play, observing that Simonson’s adaptation is an “ambitious project, but it's only partially successful.” The play is scheduled for a further three shows, before it ends on October 23rd. Tickets are priced at $22, with concessions at $15, and can be purchased from BrownPaperTickets.com.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Speak Faces School Ban, Alongside Slaughterhouse Five

Laurie Halse Anderson’s 1999 novel, Speak, is facing an attempt to ban her novel in Republic, Missouri, alongside Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. Halse Anderson’s novel, which was a National Book Award finalist, explores the controversial topic of teenage rape. Due to its subject matter, the book has been condemned by university professor, Wesley Scroggins, as “soft pornography”. Scroggins also took the time to lambaste Vonnegut’s 1969 novel, suggesting in an article for News-Leader.com that it “is a book that contains so much profane language, it would make a sailor blush with shame. “ In particular, Scroggins raised concerns about the “f-word… (being) plastered on almost every other page”.

Slaughterhouse Five has faced multiple banning attempts and is featured in the American Library Association's 100 Most Challenged Books of 1990-1999 list, alongside Of Mice and Men and Lord of the Flies. When discussing the use of profane language in Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut has suggested he was glad he had “the freedom to make soldiers talk the way they do talk.” Halse Anderson has commented on the recent banning attempt in Missouri, suggesting that she has “found a way to kind of love people who are so afraid of the world and afraid for their children that they think banning a book is an answer”. However, Halse Anderson also noted that she disagrees “with them completely about how they're going about it”

Monday, 11 October 2010

Harrison Bergeron Revisited as Part of National Review Series

The National Review, a conservative news magazine, has revisited Kurt Vonnegut’s short story, “Harrison Bergeron”, as part of its series of NROriginals. The Review, which was founded by William F. Buckley Jr, republished Vonnegut’s story in 1965, after it first appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, in 1961. In a brief piece for the National Review website, John J. Miller commented that while Vonnegut is perhaps best known as a “left-wing” writer, ““Harrison Bergeron” is one of the most conservative short stories you’ll ever read”.

“Harrison Bergeron”, explores the idea of social equality by proposing a dystopian view of the future in which all those with talents outside of the norm, such as athleticism, intelligence and even gracefulness, have been “handicapped”, or shackled, in order to prevent others from feeling inferior to them. Readers interested in Vonnegut’s tale may wish to read the full text, you can do so on the National Review website. Alternatively, there is also a film adaptation available, entitled 2081, which stars Armie Hammer (of The Social Network) as Harrison Bergeron and features music by the Kronos Quartet. Below, you can find the trailer for 2081:

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Update on Kurt Vonnegut Settings

Regular visitors might have noticed that it’s been a little while since the last update on the blog. I’m currently eleven pages into a settings guide for Jailbird and have noticed that while it’s wonderful providing regular guides to Vonnegut’s novels and short stories, keeping the updates both regular and thorough is rather difficult!

Rest assured that this post isn't politely suggesting that the blog will be bowing out - far from it. Instead, as well as providing settings guides and Kilgore Trout stories, there will also be news items/articles/various odd finds relating to Vonnegut. Essentially, from now on, there will be shorter items regularly posted on the blog, with settings guides hopefully appearing every few weeks.

So, there we have it: A quick blog post, hopefully signalling the fact that they’ll be more entertaining posts on there way soon. As always, if you have any suggestions, tips, or cooking recipes ala Deadeye Dick, you’re more than welcome to get in touch.

Image from: vonnegutsasterisk.blogspot.com.