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Fascinating exploration of dark complexities and the literary influences of Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut became a darling of the left, but, according to biographer Charles Shields, he “was less a radical than a reactionary. Kurt Vonnegut became a darling of the left, but, according to biographer Charles Shields, he “was less a radical than a reactionary. (Gil Friedberg/Pix Inc./Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
By Steve Almond
Globe Correspondent / November 13, 2011

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Kurt Vonnegut had a chip on his shoulder when it came to the critics. Despite being one of the most popular writers of his generation, he routinely complained that his work was overlooked, or miscast as high-concept, middle-brow fiction. The publication of Charles J. Shields’ fascinating new biography, And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life, probably won’t put this beef to rest, at least among his loyalists. But it does provide a definitive and disturbing account of the late author, whose ambition and talent transformed him from an obscure science fiction writer to a countercultural

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AND SO IT GOES: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life By Charles Shields

Henry Holt, 513 pp., illustrated, $30