Thursday, January 8, 2015


4987"Jailbird" takes us into a fractured a comic, pure Vonnegut world of high crimes and misdemeanors in government...and in the heart. This wry tale follows bumbling bureacrat Walter F. Starbuck from Harvard to the Nixon White House to the penitentiary as Watergate's least know co-conspirator. But the humor turns dark when Vonnegut shines his spotlight on the cold hearts and calculated greed of the mighty, giving a razor-sharp edge to an unforgettable portrait of power and politics in our times.

*May Contain Spoilers*

I love Kurt Vonnegut. Now that I've said that, let that out, please allow me to clarify. I think he's an amazing writer, a genius of the written craft. Jailbird dares not argue, but further solidifies my opinion. In this novel, published in 1979, Walter Starbuck has just been released from prison for his minuscule role in the Watergate political scandal. 

Walter Starbuck is the son of two immigrant servants, raised in the home of Alexander Hamilton McCone. Walter is an ideological self-admitted fool who takes life as it comes. He grew up playing chess, went to Harvard, and spent time in WWII where he met his wife, Ruth. They had a son and then a couple of weeks after Ruth's passing, Walter is incriminated in the Watergate investigation and is sent to prison. Now upon his release, he has no idea on what to do other than putting his Doctor of Mixology Degree to good use. Vonnegut takes readers into the world of Walter Starbuck, presenting every detail possibly needed from his history to his thought process. Readers will undoubtedly come to know Starbuck better than anyone else in his written life. His vulnerability and honesty will create the bond with readers while his enchanting whirlwind story will entertain them. 

The plot of the novel is very focused, but with more than enough detail on every topic. I love this about Vonnegut; his tangents of information are always entertaining and important. Jailbird opens with the history of Starbuck's parents and how Alexander Hamilton McCone plays a role in his life. Then we learn of the scandal that sent Walter to prison. What follows is a detailed timeline of what happens to Walter upon his release years later. Jailbird is such a lovely novel, I couldn't imagine how any reader wouldn't enjoy it. 

"Love may fail, but courtesy will prevail."
Prologue of Jailbird

Rating: 4.5/5 Cups

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