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288 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1976
We were aware of all the comedy in this. But, as brilliant as we were when we put our heads together, we did not guess until we were fifteen that we were also in the midst of a tragedy. We thought that ugliness was simply amusing to people in the outside world. We did not realize that we could actually nauseate strangers who came upon us unexpectedly.
Yes, and I write now with a palsied hand and an aching head, for I drank much too much at my birthday party last night.
Vera Chipmunk-5 Zappa arrived encrusted with diamonds, borne through the ailanthus forest in a sedan chair, accompanied by an entourage of fourteen slaves. She brought me wine and beer, which made me drunk. But her most intoxicating gifts were a thousand candles she and her slaves had made in a colonial candle mold. We fitted them into the empty mouths of my thousand candlesticks, and deployed them over the lobby floor.
Then we lit them all.
Standing among all those tiny, wavering lights, I felt as though I were God, up to my knees in the Milky Way.
"I wish that people who are conventionally supposed to love each other would say to each other, when they fight, “Please—a little less love, and a little more common decency." (3)Vonnegut famously, while self-assessing his work, gave Slapstick a D. Writers are notoriously poor at evaluating their own work, however, and Vonnegut's assessment of Slapstick is no exception. The Prologue is one of his most personal pieces of writing, as is the work itself – revolving, as it does, around the death of Kurt's sister and the close bond they always shared. Sure, the novel is not as well-thought-out as some of his others, but it is funny and sad and clever in good portions – and hey, after all, it is supposed to be Slapstick.