Vonnegut in All His Complexity

Janet Maslin in the New York Times:

ScreenHunter_07 Nov. 04 14.00Charles J. Shields got nowhere with Harper Lee when he tried to interview her for the 2006 biography “Mockingbird.” But he got lucky with Kurt Vonnegut. Mr. Shields found a lonely talkative octogenarian who had scores to settle and a reputation that badly needed restoring. Vonnegut had once told Martin Amis that the only way he could regain credit for his early work, those books from the 1950s and 1960s once so beloved by college kids, would be to die. He died on April 11, 2007, less than a year after Mr. Shields first approached him. And the two did not spend much time together. But Vonnegut gave the go-ahead that has allowed Mr. Shields to construct “And So It Goes,” an incisive, gossipy page-turner of a biography, even if it’s hard to tell just how authorized this book really is. Denied permission to quote from Vonnegut’s letters, Mr. Shields relies on paraphrases and patchwork to create a seamless-sounding account. Astonishingly, this book has nearly 1,900 notes to identify separate sources and quotations. But it doesn’t sound choppy at all.

More here.