Culture

A New Kurt Vonnegut Novella Drops Today

Culture

A New Kurt Vonnegut Novella Drops Today

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From 2666 to Maurice to The Original of Laura, posthumous works are the new rage, and no mistake. But let’s be clear on one thing: do we like the output of great minds to be neverending, or do we like our great minds dead and safely buried in the ground in order to appreciate their work? This is but one of the questions posed by today’s release of Kurt Vonnegut‘s Basic Training by the independent e-publisher, RosettaBooks. The novella, originally written in the ’40s and submitted to the Saturday Evening Post (what?) was rejected by it (phew) and it’s not hard to guess why: one is hard pressed to think of a magazine whose sensibility is less in sync with Vonnegut’s. It’s apparently only one of a large number of unpublished Vonnegut scribblings unlocked by his literary executor. The downside: RosettaBooks being what it is, Basic Training is exclusively an e-read, snapped up and distributed by the growing Kindle Singles enterprise. Which limits its audience somewhat. But the great thing about Vonnegut fans is that they’re prepared to hurdle all obstacles to get to his work–a fidelity unheard of in the case of less read authors, for whom an e-release would not garner half the attention. Vonnegut seems to be one of those authors whose intellectual radicalism becomes tamed after death. Hopefully with a resurgence of earlier work, we won’t be able to continue to regard him as safe anymore.