Kurt Vonnegut Biographer to Visit Baldwin Public Library

The special appearance, happening at 7 p.m. Wednesday, is part of Baldwin's celebration of National Library Week.

Fans of novels like Cat's Cradle or Slaughterhouse-Five, take note.

Gregory Sumner, author of the Kurt Vonnegut biography Unstuck in Time: A Journey Through Kurt Vonnegut's Life and Novels, will be visiting the Wednesday for a special reading and discussion.

The appearance is part of Baldwin's celebration of National Library Week, going on now through Friday.

In Unstuck in Time, Sumner guides readers through a biography of 15 of Vonnegut's best known works, including his 14 novels beginning with 1952's Player Piano to the epilogue in his last book,  A Man Without a Country, written in 2005.

According to Assistant Library Director Matt Church, Sumner gives readers a poignant portrait of Vonnegut, particularly his resistance to celebrating values traditionally associated with the American dream.

"Instead of a celebration of these values, we read and share Vonnegut's outrage, his brokenhearted empathy for those who struggle under the the ethos of survival-of-the-fittest in the frontier mentality — something (Vonnegut) once memorably described as 'an impossibly tough-minded experiment in loneliness,'" Church said.

Sumner is a professor of history at the University of Detroit-Mercy, where he has taught since 1993. He holds a doctorate in American history from Indiana University and is also the author of Dwight Macdonald and the Politics Circle.

Sumner has been awarded summer fellowships by the National Endowment for the Humanities and has twice been the William J. Fulbright Senior Lecturer at the Université di Roma Tre.

The discussion begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday on the library's lower level. Books will be available for purchase and signing from Oak Park's Book Beat bookstore. To pre-order a copy with the Book Beat, call 248-968-1190.


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