Thanks to a wave of media appearances, including interviews with HBO’s Bill Maher and Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, Kurt Vonnegut is again a best seller.
The author of “Slaughterhouse-Five,” “Cat’s Cradle” and many other favorites has been promoting “A Man Without a Country,” a collection of nonfiction that came out Thursday. The book has reached the top 10 on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com, and publisher Seven Stories Press has already more than doubled its first printing, from 50,000 copies to 110,000.
“It’s a nice glass of champagne at the end of a life,” the 82-year-old Vonnegut told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Vonnegut said he no longer writes fiction, but he does contribute articles — some of them included in his new book — to In These Times, a liberal magazine based in Chicago.
“A Man Without a Country” is just under 150 pages, and includes criticism of the Bush administration (“George W. Bush has gathered around him upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography ...”) and Vonnegut’s characteristically dark, but humorous thoughts on the fate of the planet.
“I like to say that the 51st state is the state of denial,” he told the AP. “It’s as though a huge comet were heading for us and nobody wants to talk about it. We’re just about to run out of petroleum and there’s nothing to replace it.”
He jokes, sort of, that he has “lived too long” and wishes he had been finished off by a fire at his home a few years ago, from which he escaped unharmed. “When Hemingway killed himself he put a period at the end of his life; old age is more like a semicolon,” Vonnegut said with a wheezy laugh worthy of a long-term chain smoker.
“My father, like Hemingway, was a gun nut and was very unhappy late in life. But he was proud of not committing suicide. And I’ll do the same, so as not to set a bad example for my children.”