Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut
Dial Press Trade Paperback :: 1999 :: 320 pp.
For the Unread Authors Challenge, Book #1.
I picked this up because Galapagos and Cat's Cradle had already been checked out of the library, and I very much enjoyed it. It basically follows a "Harvard man" in his first days out of jail for his involvement in the Watergate scandal; the biggest preoccupation is his betrayal of an old friend during the McCarthy era. He has only loved four women, and he mentions each of them.
I felt quite off-balance reading this short little book, which didn't surprise me, given what I've heard of its author. I enjoyed the snappy humor, particularly when directed at the concept of the "Harvard man" ("I've heard you can always tell a Harvard man, but you can't tell him much") -- I'm always, narcissistically, intrigued by literary portrayals of my venerable school -- and I liked the portrayal of the central character, who was very fully-developed and human and kind of crazy.
I wonder if I should've started with one of the classics. If I had read Jailbird out of context I would not, despite its dealings with major complications in American history, have immediately pegged it as an Important Book. Next I'll read Slaughterhouse 5 or Cat's Cradle. But I will certainly continue to read Vonnegut's work.
In Summary: A solid read.