And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life

By Charles J. Shields, UMW Great Lives assistant director

In the summer of 2006, Charles J. Shields contacted Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and offered to be the famous author’s biographer. Vonnegut’s first response was, in so many words, “no.” Shields persisted, and finally got an “OK” from the writer of such works as Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five, and Breakfast of Champions. Shields interviewed Vonnegut, who died the following April at age 84. The result of those interviews and subsequent meticulous research is And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life, the definitive biography of Vonnegut based on his own words and those of his contemporaries, friends, and family members in addition to personal letters. Through the biography, Shields exposes the effects on Vonnegut of his mother’s suicide, his internment during WWII as a POW in Dresden, his many years as a literary failure, his adoption of three children who were orphaned by his sister and brother-in-law, his alcoholism, and his own attempted suicide.

Shields spoke on Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, as part of last year’s UMW Great Lives Series. Shields is the author of Mockingbird, the best-selling biography of the reclusive author.

− Published by Henry Holt and Company, November 2011