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Suzanne McConnell, "Pity the Reader" by Kurt Vonnegut and Suzanne McConnell

Pity the Reader: On Writing with Style

by Kurt Vonnegut and Suzanne McConnell

Here is an entirely new side of Kurt Vonnegut, Vonnegut as a teacher of writing. Of course he's given us glimpses before, with aphorisms and short essays and articles and in his speeches. But never before has an entire book been devoted to Kurt Vonnegut the teacher. Here is pretty much everything Vonnegut ever said or wrote having to do with the writing art and craft, altogether a healing, a nourishing expedition. McConnell has outfitted us for the journey, and in these 37 chapters covers the waterfront of how one American writer brought himself to the pinnacle of the writing art, and we can all benefit as a result.

Kurt Vonnegut was one of the few grandmasters of American literature, whose novels continue to influence new generations about the ways in which our imaginations can help us to live. Few aspects of his contribution have not been plumbed—fourteen novels, collections of his speeches, his essays, his letters, his plays—so this fresh view of him, written by a former student, is a bonanza for writers and readers and Vonnegut fans everywhere.

PRAISE: “I hate getting advice, personally. This is not that kind of book—it complains grumpily about the discomfort required to write truthfully and it celebrates the long history of art as “a very human way of making life more bearable.” In short, it reminds us of the important things. Suzanne McConnell takes us eloquently into the joys of rediscovering Vonnegut, in a guide that will be profoundly useful to writers thinking about fiction’s purposes as well as its methods.”– Joan Silber, author of Improvement, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

PRAISE: “Irresistible, big-hearted and helpful to writers at whatever stage of their craft or their life. This is such a rich, generous book about writing and reading and Kurt Vonnegut as writer, teacher, and friend, that I find myself at a loss for the right good words. It’s a breeze to read. Every page brings pleasure and insight. It captures the spirit of the man some of us were lucky enough to know and gives future generations a sense of him as a teacher and writer. It traces how Vonnegut grew as a writer and how his writing took shape. I have read it three times now and find it not only a meticulous homage and worthy memorial to a great human being and a lasting writer, but a true help, for all of us at any age, who yearn to write with style.”– Gail Godwin, bestselling author of A Southern Family

PRAISE: “A love song for the writing life by one of the world’s finest humanist writers, Kurt Vonnegut’s wry and compassionate voice is given a resonant echo chamber here by the wise and abidingly respectful presence of his former graduate student, Suzanne McConnell. Part homage, part memoir, and a 100% guide to making art with words, Pity the Reader: Writing With Style is a simply mesmerizing book, and I cannot recommend it highly enough!”– Andre Dubus III

BIOS: Author, editor and writing teacher Suzanne McConnellwas a student of Kurt Vonnegut’s at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop during its heyday, the period from 1965–67, when Vonnegut—along with Nelson Algren and other notable authors—was in residence, and was finishing his masterpiece, Slaughterhouse Five. Vonnegut and McConnell became friends, and stayed so for many years. She has published short memoirs of him in The Brooklyn Rail and The Writer’s Digest, and led a panel at the 2014 AWP conference on Vonnegut’s legacy, titled “Vonnegut’s Legacy: Writing about War and Other Debacles of the Human Condition.” McConnell has taught writing at Hunter College for thirty years, and serves as the Fiction Editor of the Bellevue Literary Review. She lives in New York City and Wellfleet, MA, with her husband, the artist Gary Kuehn.

BIOS: Born in 1922 in Indianapolis, Indiana, Kurt Vonnegut was one of the few grandmasters of modern American letters. Called by the New York Times “the counterculture’s novelist,” his works guided a generation through the miasma of war and greed that was life in the U.S. in second half of the 20th century. After stints as a soldier, anthropology PhD candidate, technical writer for General Electric, and salesman at a Saab dealership, Vonnegut rose to prominence with the publication of Cat’s Cradle in 1963. Several modern classics, including Slaughterhouse-Five, soon followed. Never quite embraced by the stodgier arbiters of literary taste, Vonnegut was nonetheless beloved by millions of readers throughout the world. “Given who and what I am,” he once said, “it has been presumptuous of me to write so well.” Kurt Vonnegut died in New York in 2007.

Event Date: 
Friday, November 8, 2019 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm
Address: 
29 Tinker Street
Woodstock, NY 12498
Books: 
Pity the Reader: On Writing With Style Cover Image
$32.95
ISBN: 9781609809621
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Seven Stories Press - November 5th, 2019