Hocus Pocus (novel)

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Hocus Pocus
First edition hardcover
Author Kurt Vonnegut
Country United States
Language English
Genre Novel
Publisher Putnam Publishing Group
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardcover & Paperback) and eBook
Pages 302 pp
ISBN 0-399-13799-8

Hocus Pocus, or What's the Hurry, Son? is a 1990 novel by Kurt Vonnegut.


The main character and narrator is Eugene Debs Hartke, a Vietnam War veteran and college professor, and carillonneur who realizes that he has killed exactly as many people as the number of women he has had sex with. The character's name is a homage to American labor and political leader Eugene V. Debs and anti-war senator Vance Hartke, both from Vonnegut's home state, Indiana.[1] The novel is presented as if it were written on many scraps of paper and assembled afterwards, with horizontal lines separating the contents of each scrap.[2]

Plot summary[edit]

Eugene Debs is fired from his job as a college professor after having several of his witticisms surreptitiously recorded by the daughter of a popular conservative commentator. Eugene then becomes a teacher at a nearby overcrowded prison run by a Japanese corporation and comes to know members of each community while reflecting on his own history and ensuring his own survival.


  1. ^ Vonnegut, Kurt (2012 Edition). Kurt Vonnegut: Letters. Delacorte Press eBook. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-345-53539-9.
  2. ^ Vonnegut, Kurt (November 1991 Edition). Hocus Pocus. Berkley mass-market edition. p. vii of the Editor's Note. ISBN 978-0-425-13021-6.

External links[edit]