This Week’s Column:


a MobyLives guest column


11 November 2005 —Today is Kurt Vonnegut's birthday. Last April 30, Mr. Vonnegut walked to the mailbox on the corner of the street where he lives and sent this joke, in the form of a personal letter from Uncle Sam to Iraq, to his editor and publisher, Dan Simon at Seven Stories Press. It has never been published before.

Dearest Iraq:

Act like me. After 100 years of democracy let your slaves go. After 150 let your women vote. At the start of democracy ethnic cleansing is quite OK.

Love you madly!


Kurt Vonnegut is the author of numerous books, including Slaughterhouse Five and the current bestseller A Man Without A Country (Seven Stories).

©2005 Kurt Vonnegut

Previous columns:

A GOOD STORY IS HARD TO FIND . . . Guest columnist Paul Maliszewski talks to journalist Michael Finkel about getting fired from the New York Times for using a composite character, and the bizarre aftermath when he tried to regain his career.

THE FREELANCER . . Making a living out of free–lance writing—i.e., writing at home in your pajamas—is great . . . except for when it's not, says guest columnist Chris Rodell.

THE VARIETIES OF WRITERLY DISSIDENCE . . Guest columnist Wayne Miller says criticisms of Ismail Kadare's claims to dissidence arent' exactly wrong. They aren't exactly right, either. . .

AT THE FAMOUS WRITERS' CONFERENCE . . In a guest column, Marie Myung–Ok Lee describes being feted as an ethnic writer at a famous writers conference — when she isn't that ethnicity after all.

WHY ROBBER BARONS SELF–PUBLISH . . In a guest column, historian Edward J. Renehan, Jr. discusses why one of American history's leading financiers, Jay Gould, advised smart people to stay out of the publishing business.

KADARE IS NO SOLZHENITSYN . . The winner of the first Booker International Prize trashed "untrue" dissident writers for keeping silent. Guest columnist Renata Dumitrascu asks if he was really part of their suppression.<

GOOGLIZATION AND YOU . . Librarian Christopher Allen Waldrop says in a guest column that Google Print does more than break copyright laws — it opens the records of patrons up to more widespread scrutiny than the PATRIOT Act.

BOOKSELLER AT LARGE . . Guest commentator Dan Bloom says he moved to Taiwan and wrote a book that sold thousands of copies — after he took to the streets yelling, "Buy my book!"


All material not otherwise attributed ©2000 – 2005 Dennis Loy Johnson.