Vonnegut comes out punching with his first novel, a dystopian vision of the United States overrun by technology and an elite class of managers and engineers. Its hero, Paul Proteus, questions his successful career and soon finds himself caught up with a ragtag group of revolutionaries and dreamers. Still reeling from his own unhappy stint as a publicist for General Electric, Vonnegut scans the grey corporate landscape of midcentury America for signs of life, but finds them only in brief glimpses at local bars and barber shops. Those familiar with Vonnegut’s later works may be surprised to find the novel is written in a more traditional linear and realist style, but it bears early signs of his trademark humor, cynicism, and inventive imagination. As a scathing social satirist, he is already at full throttle, gleefully ripping through institutions of government, military, church, family, and especially white-collar professional society.

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