Need something to do this summer? Why not tackle the Vonnegut canon? In 2013 Wilson Taylor and Matthew Gannon, two friends and writers with a passion for literature, criticism, and Kurt Vonnegut, launched their Summer of Vonnegut, a critical conversation in which the two writers read and reviewed all fourteen of Vonnegut’s novels. The resulting essays comprise The Vonnegut Review, a website featuring Wilson’s and Gannon’s insightful explorations of Vonnegut’s work. Taylor and Gannon combine their sharp critical eyes and knowledge of literary theory with an appreciation for the essential humanity of Vonnegut’s fiction. Their work is highly recommended, and available at The Vonnegut Review.
Wilson Taylor shared his thoughts with The Daily Vonnegut.
Q: What prompted the idea for the “Vonnegut Summer” in 2013?
A: Vonnegut Summer grew out of a winter of intellectual uncertainty and expectation. Matt (Matthew Gannon) and I were both sort of spinning our wheels academically; we knew we wanted to write and pursue a project together, but we weren’t quite sure where to start. We had graduated from college but had not yet started graduate school. The two of us would often discuss literature, politics, music, and theory, and we pursued this after college through digressive and labyrinthine email threads; we wanted to continue these discussions in a more concrete and structured way. We also both shared a long-standing love for Vonnegut–we were both a bit mesmerized by him, really–and wanted to engage with his literature more deeply and vigorously. We sought to bring our wide reading in literature and cultural theory to bear on a favorite author of our youth. We also felt that, while Vonnegut is culturally beloved, his work doesn’t garner the critical attention it deserves.
Vonnegut Summer was initially Matt’s idea. We both found Vonnegut to be a writer whose entire fourteen-novel body of work was worth of careful, critical exploration, and which is also best read as sort of an organic, multifaceted whole–what Robert Tally imagines as Vonnegut’s serial experimentation with the Great American Novel. We both instinctively grasped the value of a single-author survey, and Vonnegut–whose novels are delightfully and deeply human; their lightness belies their richness–had always been close to our hearts. Our stated goal was to “reinvigorate critical readings of Vonnegut for the twenty-first century” and to read Vonnegut as “unstuck in time,” as an indispensable writer who speaks to and for our contemporary moment. So we then decided to divide his fourteen novels in half, slapped together a website, and Vonnegut Summer was born.
For the full interview, follow the link below: