Father of the Light Bulb

J. Robert Lennon

  • Kurt Vonnegut: Complete Stories edited by Jerome Klinkowitz and Dan Wakefield
    Seven Stories, 911 pp, £29.99, November 2017, ISBN 978 1 60980 808 2

For decades, Kurt Vonnegut was an unshakeable, if unconventional, part of the American literary canon: even if his books didn’t find a lot of traction in academia, they were in every high school library. That’s where I first encountered him, some time in the mid-1980s, when I was supposed to be getting a head start on my homework before track practice. I’d been sitting in the fiction section when, bored, I pulled a book from a nearby shelf. It was Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions, and on the random page I opened there was a hand-drawn, many-splined asterisk. Above it, the text read: ‘To give an idea of the maturity of my illustrations for this book, here is my picture of an asshole.’

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