Home » Fiction & Literature » Kurt Vonnegut » We Are What We Pretend To Be

February 28 , 2008

We Are What We Pretend To Be

The First and Last Works


Called “our finest black-humorist” by The Atlantic Monthly, Kurt Vonnegut was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. Now his first and last works come together for the first time in print, in a collection aptly titled after his famous phrase, We Are What We Pretend To Be.

Written to be sold under the pseudonym of “Mark Harvey,” Basic Training was never published in Vonnegut’s lifetime. It appears to have been written in the late 1940s and is therefore Vonnegut’s first ever novella. It is a bitter, profoundly disenchanted story that satirizes the military, authoritarianism, gender relationships, parenthood and most of the assumed mid-century myths of the family. Haley Brandon, the adolescent protagonist, comes to the farm of his relative, the old crazy who insists upon being called The General, to learn to be a straight-shooting American. Haley’s only means of survival will lead him to unflagging defiance of the General’s deranged (but oh so American, oh so military) values. This story and its thirtyish author were no friends of the milieu to which the slick magazines’ advertisers were pitching their products.

When Vonnegut passed away in 2007, he left his last novel unfinished. Entitled If God Were Alive Today, this last work is a brutal satire on societal ignorance and carefree denial of the world’s major problems. Protagonist Gil Berman is a middle-aged college lecturer and self-declared stand-up comedian who enjoys cracking jokes in front of a college audience while societal dependence on fossil fuels has led to the apocalypse. Described by Vonnegut as, “the stand-up comedian on Doomsday,” Gil is a character formed from Vonnegut’s own rich experiences living in a reality Vonnegut himself considered inevitable.

Along with the two works of fiction, Vonnegut’s daughter, Nanette shares reminiscences about her father and commentary on these two works—both exclusive to this edition.

Download docx

Read also

The Eden Express

The Eden Express describes from the inside Mark Vonnegut’s experience in the late ’60s and early ’70s—a recent college grad; in love; living communally on a farm, with a famous and doting father, cherished dog, and prized jalopy—and then the nervous breakdowns in all their slow-motion intimacy, the taste of mortality and opportunity for humor they…

In this fiction collection, published in print for the first time, exist Vonnegut’s grand themes: trust no one, trust nothing; and the only constants are absurdity and resignation, which themselves cannot protect us from the void but might divert.
Show more...

How to download book

Buy this book

You can buy this book now only for $10.69. This is the lowest price for this book.

Buy book

Download book free

If you want to download this book for free, please register, approve your account and get one book for free.


After that you may download book «We Are What We Pretend To Be»:

Download PDF:


Download XML Book:


Download Adobe DRM: