After the universe decides to back up ten years and all humans must live through the 1990s again, author Kurt Vonnegut finds himself trying to write a book called Timequake, which he knows he will never finish since he already did not finish it.
"Someone, maybe Emerson, predicted that novels would become frankly autobiographical in the twentieth century, and, sure enough, Henry Miller wrote the classic autobiographical novel Tropic of Cancer, Philip Roth and Norman Mailer starred themselves in ostensible novels, and, vice versa, Kenneth Rexroth called his actual life story (another classic) An Autobiographical Novel. Now Vonnegut, who has barged into several previous novels, erases the line between fact and fancy to mostly gabble on like the funny old geezer he is. He tells great jokes, relays more family history than anything else, suggests several new amendments to the Constitution, tosses out a fistful of his trademark tag lines (the best one is "ting-a-ling," although it probably won't supplant Slaughterhouse Five's "so it goes" as Vonnegutians' favorite), and does his mournful, baggy-pants philosopher-clown routine one more time. Oh, there is some indisputable fiction here. Vonnegut has salvaged bits of a 1996 novel, which he aborted at the last minute, based on the premise that a bump in the space-time continuum--a "time-quake" --throws the universe 10 years backward, from 2001 to 1991, and also includes Vonnegut's most famous recurring character (outstanding in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater), perpetually unsuccessful science-fiction writer Kilgore Trout. This new book's premise is the proposition that most people hate living, with good reason; mixed with the '96 stuff, it spices an utterly Vonnegutian sweet-and-sour stew deliciously. --Ray Olson"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Its publisher calls this Vonnegut's "first full-length work of fiction in seven years" (since the novel Hocus Pocus), which seems like a polite way to avoid claiming it as a novel. It's certainly not that, nor is it, strictly speaking, a collection of stories. It is, rather, a good-natured and delightful ramble around the problem of not being able to get a book to work. Using his science-fictional alter ego Kilgore Trout, Vonnegut talks about a recalcitrant book of Trout's whose premise would have been that "a sudden glitch in the space-time continuum'' occurs, creating a 10-year hitch in time in which everyone is forced to live that period of their lives over again, every word and action exactly repeated, from 1991 until 2001, at which point their lives move forward once more. It is a nice conceit, and Vonnegut and Trout have some fun with it, all interwoven with anecdotes about the Vonnegut family, how it feels to be an aging author and suchlike. There are plenty of Vonnegut gems for the taking (he and William Styron agree at one point that only 17% of people in the world have lives worth living), but the effect of the book is more like a relaxed, jokey conversation than anything else. Call it a patchwork of brief, semi-fictional essays; no matter, Vonnegut is always good company. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved