Book Reviews of Hocus Pocus

Hocus Pocus
Hocus Pocus
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
ISBN-13: 9780399135248
ISBN-10: 0399135243
Publication Date: 9/5/1990
Pages: 302
Rating:
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 13

3.6 stars, based on 13 ratings
Publisher: Putnam Publishing Group
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

19 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Hocus Pocus on
Helpful Score: 3
I had to read this for American Lit. last semester, and enjoyed it very much. It is easy to read but at the same time you have to pay attention to what is going on. The way the novel is pieced together is different, and it makes it all the more interesting. I highly recommend this book, and I can't wait to read more of his books, and I also want to try reading his son's books also.
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Helpful Score: 2
This book is classic Vonnegut sarcastic humor. I loved it! Dark, intellectual and witty. The main character is a vietnam vet, who also teaches at a university for learning challenged students of wealthy elite parents. There is plenty of infidelity. There is a prison, inmates. Social commentary. Read it-you will laugh.
reviewed Hocus Pocus on + 1524 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This book begins with an Editor's Note: 'The author of this book did not have access to writing paper of uniform size and quality. He wrote in a library housing some eight hundred thousand volumes of interest to no one else. Most had never been read and probably never would be read, so there was nothing to stop him from tearing out their blank endpapers for stationery. This he did not do. Why he did not do this is not known. Whatever the reason, he wrote this book in pencil on everything from brown wrapping paper to the backs of business cards. The unconventional lines separating passages within chapters indicate where one scrap ended and the next began. The shorter the passage, the smaller the scrap....'
OK, now you've got the idea! This is NOT the average novel. I'm not entirely sure that Kurt Vonnegut inhabits exactly the same world the rest of us do, and he surely doesn't look at the world from the same direction.
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Helpful Score: 2
Social inequalities with a humorous twist!
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Helpful Score: 1
A Vonnegut classic, comedy, satire, social commentary, very easy to read and engaging
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Helpful Score: 1
I love Vonnegut's sharp-toothed satire on americans and humans in general. I highly recommend that you check him out!
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Helpful Score: 1
Hilarious, wonderful Vonnegut...you are sure to enjoy!
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His usual romp, this time about the life of a teacher and how he affects his surroundings.
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I love Kurt Vonnegut!!

"Sharp-toothed satire...absurd humor." - San Francisco Chronicle

I highly recommend Hocus Pocus and all Vonnegut books for that matter!!
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Classic Vonnegut. Great read.
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From Publishers Weekly
While awaiting trial for an initially unspecified crime, Vietnam vet and college professor Eugene Debs Hartke realizes that he has killed exactly as many people as he has had sex with, a coincidence that causes him to doubt his atheism. According to PW , "The cumulative power of the novel is considerable, revealing Vonnegut at his fanciful and playful best."
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
reviewed Hocus Pocus on
Eugene Debs Hartke -- Vietnam Vet and career officer, teacher, philanderer, and now... prisoner. "Hocus Pocus" tells his story in small snatches of thoughts he scribbles on whatever comes to hand. He's accused of masterminding the largest mass prison breakout in US history. (As a side project to these notes, he's assembling two lists: all the women he's loved and all the people he's killed.)

This is classic Vonnegut. His black humor is in full force as Hartke comments on war, love, politics, the prison system, insanity, education, misinformation, and the "ruling class" in America.

For longtime Vonnegut readers, we even get to revisit a story by his fictional alter-ego, Kilgore Trout. Hartke finds deep meaning in "The Protocols of the Elders of Tralfamadore" which he finds in a copy of "Black Garter" magazine.

Maybe the last sentence of the book sums up its viewpoint best: "Just because some of us can read and write and do a little math, that doesn't mean we deserve to conquer the Universe."
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Difficult to read not in chronological order, but entertaining once you get the format down.
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Not Vonnegut's best work, but awesome nonetheless.
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"Irresistable...Hocus Pocus is vintage Vonnegut, witty, startling, satiic...Off the wall brilliance. Vonnegut is a true original. Hocus Pocus is not only Poignant and provocative, it is outrageous and very funny indeed. If Luck and Time are the two prime movers of the Universe, we are lucky in our time to have a Kurt Vonnegut to prod us, scold us, astonish us, unnerve us, entertain us and make us laugh..."

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer
reviewed Hocus Pocus on + 74 more book reviews
"I see no harm in telling young people to prepare for failure rather than success, since failure is the main thing that is going to happen to them," writes main character Eugene Debs Hartke. And not just personal failure, but large-scale continental collapse. The American economy is dominated by Japan, colleges are turned into prisons, and Swedes are mining US forests with Mexican labor. Another Vonnegut hand-slap to America for failing to live up to his expectations for it. But he's a brilliant writer and, again in this book, someone you suspect is deeply concerned about others.
reviewed Hocus Pocus on + 52 more book reviews
While awaiting trial for an initially unspecified crime, Vietnam vet and college professor Eugene Debs Hartke realizes that he has killed exactly as many people as he has had sex with, a coincidence that causes him to doubt his atheism. According to PW , "The cumulative power of the novel is considerable, revealing Vonnegut at his fanciful and playful best."
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Joseph Heller and Playboy magazine liked it.
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I read a lot of Vonnegut back in the 70's including such classics as "Slaughterhouse Five," "Sirens of Titan," "Cat's Cradle," and "God Bless You Mr. Rosewater." I also reread "Mother Night" a few years ago and found it to be a very biting satire leaving me wanting to read more of Vonnegut. Well, I finally got around to reading "Hocus Pocus," one of Vonnegut's later works being written in 1990 that I have had on my shelf for several years. This was very reminiscent of his early work with his humor and satire poking jabs as usual at how mankind seems to have screwed up the planet. The novel takes place in 2001 where there is mass segregation at prisons and other places, where the Japanese have bought up most of America including the prisons, and where most resources are scarce. The protagonist is Eugene Debs Hartke, a Vietnam War veteran, college professor, and carillonneur (a player of tuned bells) who realizes that he has killed exactly as many people as the number of women he has had sex with. The novel is basically filled with Eugene's thoughts from the war, his family, his life as an instructor at a college for underwhelming students, and as an instructor at a nearby prison after he is fired from the college. After a massive prison break, Eugene's former college is occupied by escapees from the prison, who take the staff hostage. Eventually the college is turned into a prison, since the old prison was destroyed in the breakout. Ironically, Eugene is ordered to be the warden of the prison, but then becomes an inmate, presumably via the same type of "hocus pocus" that led to his dismissal from his professorship. The novel is written on scraps of paper as Eugene is awaiting trial based on a bogus charge that he incited the prison break. The novel also has a reference to "Tralfamadore," the fictional planet from "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Sirens of Titan." The exploits of multi-dimensional beings are chronicled in The Protocols of the Elders of Tralfamadore (a title which parodies The Protocols of the Elders of Zion), which is published serially in a pornographic magazine called Black Garterbelt. The magazine turned up in Eugene's footlocker from Vietnam.

Overall, this was another of Vonnegut's biting satires on mankind. It was filled with humor but was also very thought-provoking and I will probably be reading more of Vonnegut's novels that I have missed.