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Pity the Reader  By  cover art

Pity the Reader

By: Kurt Vonnegut,Suzanne McConnell
Narrated by: Karen White
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Publisher's Summary

The art and craft of writing by one of the few grandmasters of American literature, a bonanza for writers and listeners written by Kurt Vonnegut's former student.  

Here is an entirely new side of Kurt Vonnegut, Vonnegut as a teacher of writing. Of course he's given us glimpses before, with aphorisms and short essays and articles and in his speeches. But never before has an entire book been devoted to Kurt Vonnegut the teacher. Here is pretty much everything Vonnegut ever said or wrote having to do with the writing art and craft, altogether a healing, a nourishing expedition. McConnell has outfitted us for the journey, and in these 37 chapters covers the waterfront of how one American writer brought himself to the pinnacle of the writing art, and we can all benefit as a result.  

Kurt Vonnegut was one of the few grandmasters of American literature, whose novels continue to influence new generations about the ways in which our imaginations can help us to live. Few aspects of his contribution have not been plumbed - 14 novels, collections of his speeches, his essays, his letters, his plays - so this fresh view of him, written by a former student, is a bonanza for writers and listeners and Vonnegut fans everywhere.

©2019 Trust u/w of Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (P)2019 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

What listeners say about Pity the Reader

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Unlistenable

Narrarator sounds utterly insufferable. Couldn't even get through the intro. It's like they went to The New Yorker or a Cape Cod country club and asked for the most pompous person there.

15 people found this helpful

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Feminist critique of Vonnegut's life

Mostly advice and political commentary from a literature professor rather than from Vonnegut, so buy it if that's what you want.

10 people found this helpful

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Annoying narrator

This information might have been useful but I had to stop halfway through because the narrator was making my skin crawl with their over stylized way of speaking.

5 people found this helpful

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Like a Good College Class

Imagine taking a creative writing course in college focused on what we can learn from celebrated author Kurt Vonnegut. Imagine the course being structured and taught by a competent professor who is herself an author and was a student of Kurt’s. If this appeals to you, you will love this book. It is filled with direct quotes from Kurt’s writings and interviews and excerpts from his books put in context. I believe most writers and lovers of Vonnegut’s work will enjoy this. Now, if you are looking for a book directly written by Kurt Vonnegut this is not it. I enjoyed the course in audio book form and recommend it.

2 people found this helpful

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Love Vonnegut, but pity the listener?

As a writer, I had high hopes for this book, and its content delivered. It's the kind of book you'll want to take notes on, and perhaps feel a familiarity with Vonnegut's process, at the more humble level of course. I stopped short of five stars for "story" because it could've been tighter; there were a few details added by McConnell that seemed merely a flex of knowledge, which were especially ironic in the chapter about the importance of letting go of surfeit content while editing. To be fair, it's possible my impressions are tainted by my dislike of the narration. Otherwise, a great contribution to books on craft and insights into Vonnegut's life, writing process, psychology, and artistry.

I only wish the narrator had't read every Vonnegut quote in a voice reminiscent of a haughty, 18th century orator. Every single quote a pontification. Although I didn't know Vonnegut, the man reflected in his work and in this book seems very unlikely to have deployed this tone when he spoke. Despite the grating narration, well worth the purchase.

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Overall pretty nice and full of useful tips

Overall pretty nice and full of useful tips on writing – now I really want to dig more into Vonnegut's books as well – but it was so hard to listen to. Painfully hard and I applaud everyone who made it to the end of the book.

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Wanted to like it...

I wanted to like this book. I loved the physical book. The narrator is GOD AWFUL. I tried and tried to get past her voice but it's like a robot voice with less emotion!

1 person found this helpful

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The best book for the most people’s benefit. According to my assessment.

The greatest book on the craft for the greatest number of people of all trades. The representative of the writing trade instructs all the trades by describing the method of creation itself. Suzanne McConnell dances her melodies with Kurts melodies like two jazz master buddies riffing with a band.
Suzanne perspective as an editor, writer, and coconspirator with ‘Kurt’ .
Thank You Suzanne for bringing all of Kurt and students’ of Kurt’s knowledge and humorous wit, wisdom, knowledge, & harmony to life in this book.
Funny Welcoming Joyful Encouraging as hell, like having a friend in the car with you exploring the intelligent creator in every one of us.
Anyway I really like this book ok?
And if you even scarcely like Vonnegut’s books you will notice how good it feels to dig into the mud with this book.
MFW

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Valuable

I really enjoyed this look at Vonnegut from someone who knew him and his family.

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Loved it!

Great advice and encouragement for writers. Write because you love it, be happy with what you've created for you have created something that no one else on the earth could.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-09-20

About, but not by Vonnegut

The work is more McConnell's work stitched together by Kurts than vise versa. Although bringing some insight to Vonnegut as a person and a writer, the voice of both the reader and writer leaves me wanting. Not to mention how far the book has to stretch to include topical US politics. If you include Trump you're timelessness and appeal (to the majority of the planet) will elude you.

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  • Jez
  • 02-13-20

Terrible narration

I couldn’t get past the first chapter because of the computer generated narration. I did persevere through the introduction and about 15 minutes of the first chapter—but no. The book may be good but narration staccato in its style and therefore hard to warm to. I do love Vonnegut so may look to buy the paperback if possible so that I can actually enjoy it. Only gave a 3 for story because I hadn’t finished the book. As I say the book may be fantastic, and I think the content gives me that impression, but narration spoils it.

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  • JP Jaggard
  • 01-30-20

Pity the listener. And pity Vonnegut.

Suzanne McConnell's content comes across as little more than a desire for merit by proxy. Her waffle gets in the way of what could have been a wonderful compilation of his advice.
This was made worse by the narration. Karen White's croaky, bemused and ironic narration makes every sentence sound the same. Six hours in and six hours to go, and I've suffered through hearing the author's "italics my own" for the - no exageration - hundreth time. The first forty times she said this were like a hard poke in the arm, the second forty were like a slap on the face and the last twenty have felt like punch in the throat. I'm giving up before I get hurt.
We can't hear italics fools. Kindly modify the written text for a spoken recitation or don't bother