Mark Vonnegut in Tribeca

Mark Vonnegut’s new edition of previously unpublished Kurt Vonnegut writings, Armageddon in Retrospect, is out today, and I caught Kurt’s son at a reading/book signing at the Barnes and Noble in Tribeca, New York City a few hours ago tonight. Because I’ve read the book Mark Vonnegut had written himself in 1975, The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity, I was as interested in hearing from him as I was in seeing this book of new material.

Eden Express described the turbulent mental landscape Kurt’s son travelled during the hippie era, joining a commune, watching his father get famous, and ending up in a mental hospital. When Eden Express was published in 1975 it was billed as “a memoir of schizophrenia”, but the current edition explains that the diagnosis of schizophrenia is more strictly defined today, and that Mark Vonnegut’s illness would now be classified as manic-depressive (which is less severe).

He’s now sixty-something, a medical doctor, with a bright and sincere speaking style that easily wins over the large Barnes and Noble crowd. He seems highly contented, proud of his family, and proud of his career as a medical doctor. He shares his father’s thickly hooded eyes, though he is clean-shaven and his slicked-back hair bears no resemblance to Kurt’s curly Aryan-fro.

The words he read tonight were heartfelt — you can read them in the new book — and there were a few moments when he suddenly maniacally laughed and we got a glimpse of the unhinged protaganist of Eden Express for a moment or two. And, certainly, a glimpse of the enigmatic son of Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse-Five as well.

I’ve said before that you may be able to judge a writer by his or her children. If so, then this modest literary son is yet another credit (as if more were needed) to the great career of Kurt Vonnegut.

(I’ll be reviewing Armageddon in Retrospect soon for another publication. And, once again, I apologize for my continuing work as the worst cell-phone photographer in New York City.

4 Responses

  1. worst cell phone
    worst cell phone photographer, but excellent live input. Thanks so much. This is exactly the live, hot information I crave.

    Looking forward to more about Mark V.

  2. The Eden Express

    It’s a
    The Eden Express

    It’s a humble living
    At Atlantic City
    It’s either twenty minutes
    Or hell’s eternity

    The bus is runnin’ late
    I have got no name
    This inconvenience
    Makes it hard to concentrate

    Sunken shaden porches lead to Taj Mahal
    Where grimy days sleep on the boardwalk

    I’m a gamblin’ man
    I’m a chameleon
    The slot machine women
    The sea-wind’s an old man

    Merv Griffin is a poet
    And me, I am stoic
    It’s about real estate,
    It’s not the end of the game

  3. Yeah, old “Marcus” is looking
    Yeah, old “Marcus” is looking distinguished. He’s a far cry from when he streaked around in the Canadian woods. Oh yeah. I, too, read THE EDEN EXPRESS. Good for Mark, he’s promoting his Dad, Kurt. Mark’s a doctor…really put that “illness” behind him. As for me, I wear a beard like his Dad. I’m using Kurt/Mark as a model for how to come up smelling like a rose after hard times. Hey, come to think of it, Bob Dylan’s a pretty good model, too. Some of my heroes have remained intact and wholesome.

  4. My first nonfiction book is:
    My first nonfiction book is: “Liberating LIberals.” Its subtitle is: “a synthesis of Nietzsche and Jesus, Vonnegut and Marx (Groucho, not Karl). It uses Vonneguts hilarious and eviscerating sci fi vignettes to explain and lighten philosophi al isights.. First two chapters and videos of some of my talks can be had for free at liberatingliberals.I’ve also written a sci fi history of religion, “Billy Graham’s Glorious Scam,” using Vonnegut’s unique genre, and am working the “The Secret Dreams of ML King.” Moving to New York in April of 2013 and looking for speaking gigs.

    My elevator blurb is that “Liberating Liberals” will catapult you to the exhilirating and terrifying outer limits of freethinking, then glide you hilariously back to the inner infinity of philosophical calm.”

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