Cover of first edition (hardcover)
|Media type||Print (hardcover and paperback)|
Jailbird is a novel by Kurt Vonnegut, originally published in 1979. Its plot concerns a man recently released from a low security prison after having served time for a minor role in the Watergate scandal. The novel uses a standard memoir format, revealing Walter F. Starbuck's current situation, then going back to tell the story of his first two days after being released from prison.
Through Walter F. Starbuck and near-rambling biographical sketches of the various characters referenced in the novel, Jailbird concerns itself with the history of the American labor movement, while also pointing out flaws in corporate America, the American political system, the American red scare of the late 1950s, and both capitalist and communist theory.
Jailbird also features a brief appearance of Kilgore Trout, a recurring Vonnegut character who writes science fiction novels and stories. However in this appearance, "Kilgore Trout" is revealed to be the pseudonym of a character in prison, deliberately contradicting the autobiographical details of Trout's life as delineated in both earlier and subsequent Vonnegut novels.
Literary significance and reception
'Vintage Vonnegut!' – Time magazine
'There are enough kernels in Jailbird to feed the entire population of an intellectually ravenous world.' – Los Angeles Times
'Jailbird definitely mounts up on angelic wings – in its speed, in its sparkle, and in its high-flying intent. A profoundly humane comedy.' – Chicago Tribune Book World
- Audio recording of 1979 interview with Vonnegut upon the book's release
- Jailbird (novel) at Goodreads
- The New York Times book review of Jailbird, 1979
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