"If you can write, that's great. If you can tell a story, that's even greater. But if you can work a resilient premise into both, you're worth digging to find."

Monday, October 31, 2016

And So It Goes by Charles J. Shields

Synopsis: Biography of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Writing Style: Professional Literary Journalism.

Pacing: Fast.

Premise: An Exclusive Exhaustive Expose about the life of a notable writer.

Personal Highlights: The ironies and contradictions in this tomb were rife. Towards the third quarter panel of this book Vonnegut’s story, as told by Shields, underscores the importance of writing passionately from the heart. Nothing *more*. Nothing less.
Other miens that struck me most; Kurt’s upbringing…his early education and writing for various newspapers and magazines before flailing and or failing and enlisting in the army to ‘end up’ in Dresden. This opening motivated me to read the moving frames carefully… and slowly, which Shields is no shamrod (aka apprentice) meticulously webbing an accidental paradox of knots. I wanted to CLEARLY understand Kurt’s views (before and after) about WWII.

Also, while laden packed with sarcasm, highly entertaining stuff not all attributable to Vonnegut, there none-the-less is really little to consider hilariously riotous, though tickled plenty I was. Niggling quips such as; Tralamadorian’s quote “…we all are bugs in amber” and Kurt’s musings about ‘the idea of a society in freefall because of its fascination with laborsaving devices…’and his proposing to write ‘a book called Clean Stories for Clean People in Drugstores and Bus Depots…’ and observing how ‘…almost all good writers are dropouts…’ along with ‘reading being the “greatest treasure at the core of our civilization…”’ were musings, among many, where I paused for serious reflection.

Who is Keats?...oh man, (a sort of inside tickle), I cried laughing to read. Critic C.D.B. Bryan’s critique of Vonnegut grabbed me too. Was that misread on the author or reader’s part? The incident of the film student using Vonnegut’s work (for class) was another spot for a serious ‘moral ambiguity’ pause, something like the other student critiquing the nun’s work. On the latter I had to laugh though, especially after the moral of what initially read like another cheeky critique registered. And last, but hardly least, I grew a great respect for Jane. In short, she is the persona (and reason) women spearheaded the women’s movement.

Overall, something told me this would be a challenging book… ‘And So It Goes’ it was. It was a hard book to put down for sure. All the way around I really got a lot out of this biography; a MUST READ for writers in particular, and anyone else who enjoys what solid storytelling is all about. I love old-school fiction, and loved reading about its derivatives! 10 Stars. Surely, this one will be among my top 10 favorite books read in 2016!!!


  1. Thank you, kind lady.

    — Charles J. Shields

  2. Wow. Thank you, Charles... sincerely.