Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be, the saying goes, but as you get older, milestone years become more significant and resonant, especially if your own memories of them remain vivid.
So many must reads from this time ( 1968- 1974 ) and so spare hours to go back and read them. Reflections through tired eyes, as well.
So it goes…
I love the title’s reference to Lewis Lapham’s The American Ruling Class, which features among other things a magnificent cameo by Vonnegut, as well as some brilliant singing by Pete Seeger. If you haven’t seen this film, you’re missing out on a true American classic. Google it and I think you can see it for free.
How many know who Mr. Lampin is and, that on a planet in a far off galaxy years ago he held forth ( and his own ) on the TEEVEE.
Thanks for this. I was really hoping we’d get to see a copy of Vonnegut’s letter to you, though.
Sorry for the spelling error. 12 hour work days and all that. No excuse, though.
Lapham’s leadership at Harper’s is missed.
Agree. Harper’s has been uneven ever since Lapham left although I still look forward to my issue every month.
Yep, Harper’s is still a great read, Lapham or not. I could do with less Rebecca Solnit, though.
Also, a shout out to other incredible Vonnegut novels:
Breakfast of Champions
I was lucky. My high school English teacher had us read Vonnegut, Philip Roth, T.S.Eliot, Leonard Cohen, Robertson Davies…, I am forever grateful.
All great stories, but I would certainly include Jailbird, one of the two funniest things I have ever read (including much of Vonnegut, black though the humor often is), the other being a play titled The Alchemist, by Ben Johnson, a contemporary of Shakespeare’s.
Thanks for the reply, and sorry for the delay in responding.
I’m fine with Solnit. She became the whipping girl for the CD element of the hard left quite some time ago, and I don’t see that CD has reposted much of her work in recent years. I’m not so sure about this Lionel Shriver, though, who has recently taken her turn in Harper’s “Easy Chair” column.
I do like your choices of Vonnegut’s other novels. Cat’s Cradle and Breakfast of Champions form with Slaughterhouse-Five Vonnegut’s great triumvirate that also coincides with his peak from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater is tucked into that period too, and although I think it’s fine, I don’t think it rises to greatness.
And although I think Vonnegut hit a sugary, cloying, pity-the-pathetic-loser period in the mid-1970s with Slapstick and Jailbird, he recovered his edge with Deadeye Dick, which kicked off his renaissance, which also includes his last two novels, Hocus Pocus and Timequake, both of which I enjoyed for his maintaining his incisive relevance in his senior years. So it goes.