Page last updated at 14:07 GMT, Friday, 17 February 2006

Vonnegut writes of 'contempt' for Bush

Kurt Vonnegut
Vonnegut criticised both candidates in the 2004 Presidential election
Author Kurt Vonnegut has told the BBC that he came out of semi-retirement to write his new book A Man Without A Country because of his "contempt" for current US President George W Bush.

A Man Without A Country, Vonnegut's first book in five years, is a collection of short essays dealing with a wide range of topics, including humour and the difference between men and women - although the subject it tackles most is the current Bush presidency.

The book is subtitled A Memoir Of Life In George W Bush's America, and Vonnegut - who is well known for his liberal views and attacks on the American right - told the BBC that he had "drawn energy from my contempt for our president."

He explained two friends from his children's generation "rescued" him by persuading him to write again.

I'm suing a cigarette company because on the package they promised to kill me, and yet here I am
Kurt Vonnegut

"They did for me what Jesus did for Lazarus," he said.

"I really was so dead I stunk, but now here I am back here at the age of 83."

Nobel prize

A Man Without A Country is written in short sections, and much of it is based on lectures Vonnegut gave in the late 1990s and early years of this decade.

Vonnegut - best known for his 1969 novel Slaughterhouse-Five - is renowned for his graduation speeches, and for a time the oration that formed the basis of the Baz Luhrmann hit Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen) was mistakenly attributed to him.

SELECTED KURT VONNEGUT BOOKS
Player Piano (1952)
The Sirens Of Titan (1959)
Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)
Breakfast Of Champions (1973)
Jailbird (1979)
Deadeye Dick (1982)
Timequake (1996)
There are also passages based on writings he did for a left-leaning newspaper in Chicago on his 80th birthday.

However, there are also passages dealing with previously unknown periods of his life, such as when he ran an unsuccessful car dealership selling vehicles by the Swedish manufacturer Saab.

"I had gone broke - and I'd do it again," he said.

"Other people have succeeded in business, and I thought, 'why can't I?'

"But it was a terrible car. Now, of course, it's a yuppie car."

Vonnegut joked that the failure of the dealership was the reason he has not received the Nobel Prize for Literature - which is decided on by the Swedish Academy.

"Perhaps as the result of this book, they will be sorry that they didn't give me one," he added.

"If I can make it to October, I'll get a million dollars."

Vonnegut also said that he felt "embarrassed" to have lived to the age of 83.

"It's in terrible taste," he said.

"I had a fire several years ago, and it would have been so shapely if I'd died in that - but here I am.

"I'm suing a cigarette company because on the package they promised to kill me, and yet here I am," he joked.

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