Originally published in 1994, Marc Leeds' The Vonnegut Encyclopedia
(Delacorte Press, 2016) was initially conceived of as a comprehensive A-Z guide to the expansive oeuvre of the American author Kurt Vonnegut. The encyclopedia was created as resource for scholars, teachers and casual fans of Vonnegut’s work and was comprised of detailed entries on all of his plays, novels and stories, in addition to descriptions of individual characters, narratives and motifs. Readers of Vonnegut will, of course, be aware that rather than distinct, hermetically sealed texts, each of Vonnegut’s works forms part of a larger fictional universe wherein characters, locations, turns of phrase and even consumer products cross back and forth between different novels, short stories and plays. As such, Leeds’ encyclopedia allows researchers and readers to cross reference recurring characters, words and plot points. The book also serves as something of a glossary of Vonnegut’s various neologisms (e.g. “foma” and “karass”) as well as providing a wealth of biographical information on the author himself, his family and friends. The first edition, published in the early 1990s, provided a detailed, alphabetical guide to all of Vonnegut’s work up until 1991. The revised and updated edition which was published in 2016 includes all of Vonnegut’s work up until his death in 2007.
In this insightful and engaging interview Marc Leeds discusses his unique perspective on Vonnegut’s philosophy and fiction. Leeds also explains his motivation for compiling this rigorous yet entertaining guide to Vonnegut’s work and tells me about his own friendship with Kurt Vonnegut.
Miranda Corcoran received her Ph.D. in 2016 from University College Cork, where she currently teaches American literature. Her research interests include Cold-War literature, genre fiction, literature and psychology, and popular culture. She has published articles on paranoia, literature, and Cold-War popular culture in
The Boolean, Americana, and
Transverse, and contributed a book chapter on transnational paranoia to the recently published book
Atlantic Crossings: Archaeology, Literature, and Spatial Culture. She blogs about literature and popular culture HERE and can also be found on Twitter.