Cover image for Hocus pocus
Title:
Hocus pocus
Author:
Vonnegut, Kurt.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Berkley, 1997.

©1990
Physical Description:
viii, 322 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780425161296
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

From the author of Timequake , this "irresistible" novel ( Cleveland Plain Dealer ) tells the story of Eugene Debs Hartke-Vietnam veteran, jazz pianist, college professor, and prognosticator of the apocalypse.

Here is the adventure of Eugene Debs Hartke. He's a Vietnam veteran, a jazz pianist, a college professor, and a prognosticator of the apocalypse (and other things Earth-shattering). But that's neither here nor there. Because at Tarkington College-where he teaches-the excrement is about to hit the air-conditioning. And it's all Eugene's fault.

"Vonnegut is back, with plenty to say...combining clever wit with keen social observation. Hocus Pocus re-established Mr. Vonnegut's place as the Mark Twain of our times." -- Atlanta Journal & Constitution

" Hocus Pocus is the most topical, realistic Vonnegut novel to date...He is a satirist with a heart, a moralist with a whoopee cushion." --Jay McInerney, The New York Times

"It's 'Vonnegut's best novel in years-funny and prophetic...something special.'" -- The Nation


Author Notes

The appeal of Kurt Vonnegut, especially to bright younger readers of the past few decades, may be attributed partly to the fact that he is one of the few writers who have successfully straddled the imaginary line between science-fiction/fantasy and "real literature." He was born in Indianapolis and attended Cornell University, but his college education was interrupted by World War II. Captured during the Battle of the Bulge and imprisoned in Dresden, he received a Purple Heart for what he calls a "ludicrously negligible wound." After the war he returned to Cornell and then earned his M.A. at the University of Chicago.He worked as a police reporter and in public relations before placing several short stories in the popular magazines and beginning his career as a novelist.

His first novel, Player Piano (1952), is a highly credible account of a future mechanistic society in which people count for little and machines for much. The Sirens of Titan (1959), is the story of a playboy whisked off to Mars and outer space in order to learn some humbling lessons about Earth's modest function in the total scheme of things. Mother Night (1962) satirizes the Nazi mentality in its narrative about an American writer who broadcasts propaganda in Germany during the war as an Allied agent. Cat's Cradle (1963) makes use of some of Vonnegut's experiences in General Electric laboratories in its story about the discovery of a special kind of ice that destroys the world. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1965) satirizes a benevolent foundation set up to foster the salvation of the world through love, an endeavor with, of course, disastrous results. Slaughterhouse-Five; or The Children's Crusade (1969) is the book that marked a turning point in Vonnegut's career. Based on his experiences in Dresden, it is the story of another Vonnegut surrogate named Billy Pilgrim who travels back and forth in time and becomes a kind of modern-day Everyman. The novel was something of a cult book during the Vietnam era for its antiwar sentiments. Breakfast of Champions (1973), the story of a Pontiac dealer who goes crazy after reading a science fiction novel by "Kilgore Trout," received generally unfavorable reviews but was a commercial success. Slapstick (1976), dedicated to the memory of Laurel and Hardy, is the somewhat wacky memoir of a 100-year-old ex-president who thinks he can solve society's problems by giving everyone a new middle name. In addition to his fiction, Vonnegut has published nonfiction on social problems and other topics, some of which is collected in Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons (1974).

He died from head injuries sustained in a fall on April 11, 2007.

(Bowker Author Biography) Kurt Vonnegut is among the few grandmasters of 20th century American letters. He was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on November 11, 1922. Vonnegut lives in New York City.

(Publisher Provided)


Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Among the most original stylists in America today, Vonnegut vents his disgust and moral outrage with government and humanity and the entire universe in yet another scathing social/political/philosophical satire. Set in the year 2001, but jumping over the last half of the 20th century, Hocus Pocus takes on an absurdist's perspective of human history. Protagonist Eugene Debs Hartke, West Point graduate, Vietnam vet, college professor, educator of the disabled and the illiterate, is awaiting trial for a crime initially unspecified. Until this time, Hartke has diligently and good-naturedly participated in whatever was expected of him, including involvement in the evacuation of American personnel from Saigon. At one point, however, he calculates the remarkable fact that he has killed exactly as many people as he has had sex with, a coincidence that causes him to doubt his atheism. The narrative is composed of short takes in which Hartke's thoughts skip between the inconsequential and the profound, giving Vonnegut occasion to interject interesting tidbits of information, scientific and historical and otherwise. The cumulative power of the novel is considerable, revealing Vonnegut at his fanciful and playful best. First serial to Penthouse; BOMC selection; QPB featured alternate. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved