Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
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Launched in November, Dell's Kurt Vonnegut reissue program continues with one of the world's great anti-war books. Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim's odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know.
here and there. He was seeking the exact source of the radiations. He found two small sources, two lumps an inch apart and hidden in the lining. One was shaped like a pea. The other was shaped like a tiny horseshoe. Billy received a message carried by the radiations. He was told not to find out what the lumps were. He was advised to be content with knowing that they could work miracles for him, provided he did not insist on learning their nature. That was all right with Billy Pilgrim. He was
profile on a field of pale green. He had a broad armband which was red, with a blue swastika in a circle of white. He was explaining this armband now in the cement-block hog barn. Billy Pilgrim had a boiling case of heartburn, since he had been spooning malt syrup all day long at work. The heartburn brought tears to his eyes, so that his image of Campbell was distorted by jiggling lenses of salt water. “Blue is for the American sky,” Campbell was saying. “White is for the race that pioneered
loosed against those who brought war to the Far East. Before 1939, it was the accepted belief of scientists that it was theoretically possible to release atomic energy. But nobody knew any practical method of doing it. By 1942, however, we knew that the Germans were working feverishly to find a way to add atomic energy to all the other engines of war with which they hoped to enslave the world. But they failed. We may be grateful to Providence that the Germans got the V-1’s and V-2’s late and in
wish you and your family also as to your friend Merry Christmas and a happy New Year and I hope that we’ll meet again in a world of peace and freedom in the taxi cab if the accident will.” I like that very much: “If the accident will.” I would hate to tell you what this lousy little book cost me in money and anxiety and time. When I got home from the Second World War twenty-three years ago, I thought it would be easy for me to write about the destruction of Dresden, since all I would have to
them not to work for companies which make massacre machinery, and to express contempt for people who think we need machinery like that. As I’ve said: I recently went back to Dresden with my friend O’Hare. We had a million laughs in Hamburg and West Berlin and East Berlin and Vienna and Salzburg and Helsinki, and in Leningrad, too. It was very good for me, because I saw a lot of authentic backgrounds for made-up stories which I will write later on. One of them will be “Russian Baroque” and