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Publisher's Summary

Eugene Debs Hartke (named after the famous early 20th century Socialist working class leader) describes an odyssey from college professor to prison inmate to prison warden back again to prisoner in another of Vonnegut's bitter satirical explorations of how and where (and why) the American dream begins to die. Employing his characteristic narrative device - a retrospective diary in which the protagonist retraces his life at its end, a desperate and disconnected series of events here in Hocus Pocus show Vonnegut with his mask off and his rhetorical devices unshielded.
Debs (and Vonnegut) see academia just as imprisoning as the corrupt penal system and they regard politics as the furnishing and marketing of lies. Debs, already disillusioned by circumstance, quickly tracks his way toward resignation and then fury. As warden and prisoner, Debs (and the reader) come to understand that the roles are interchangeable; as a professor jailed for "radical" statements in the classroom reported by a reactionary student, he comes to see the folly of all regulation.
The "hocus pocus" of the novel's title does not describe only the jolting reversals and seemingly motiveless circumstance which attend Debs' disillusion and suffering, but also describe the political, social, and economic system of a country built upon can't, and upon the franchising of lies. At 68, Vonnegut had not only abandoned the sentiment and cracked optimism manifest in Slaughterhouse-Five, he had abandoned any belief in the system or faith for its recovery. This novel is another in a long series of farewells to the farmland funeral rites of childhood.
©1990 Kurt Vonnegut (P)2015 Audible Inc.
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Customer Reviews

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By Amazon Customer on 07-10-17

One of Vonnegut's absolute best.

Simply put, If you love or merely like Kurt Vonnegut you will feel the same about Hocus Pocus. The narration is also excellent for this audio book.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful


By Anonymous User on 12-09-17

Fun, zany and worth the read!

Any Vonnegut fan will love this work. Any non Vonnegut fans should read more Vonnegut books. Many "Easter eggs" and a wealth of wisdom for all humanity. Fun, zany and worth the read.

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