Love as Always, Kurt is a memoir of Loree Rackstraw's decades-long friendship with Kurt Vonnegut. The book is uneven for several reasons. First, and most importantly, it is never really clear why the subject matter—Rackstraw's happy relationship with Vonnegut—is of any interest to anybody. The reader is deprived of any sort of insight into Vonnegut as a writer and as a friend that could not already be gleaned from one of his many books.

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Vonnegut was a profoundly personal writer: He mentions his familial roots in Indianapolis prominently in nearly all of his novels. His witnessing of the firebombing of Dresden by Allied forces was the main subject of Slaughterhouse-Five, and the ultimate page of Breakfast of Champions is a self-portrait of the weeping author. Anybody who has read even a few of Vonnegut's works will have a strong sense of who the author was as a person. Love as Always, Kurt does nothing but confirm that image. Vonnegut was a deeply empathetic human being who believed that even though our "big brains" appear so dedicated to creating the most horrific of terrors in the world, these same brains could also be used to ensure that humans may also find ways to live together without the everyday horror of isolation and loneliness.

Love as Always, Kurt is scattered ad nauseam with a small collection of adjectives—"elegant" is the chief culprit, sometimes appearing multiple times on a single page—and pop-psychology observations of Vonnegut. Rackstraw's casual and sometimes distant iteration of events in Vonnegut's life only reminds the reader how perilous it is to write about an artist and not about his work. It is one of the first steps in an ossification of tradition and personality cults (one reads frequently of Ezra Pound's anti-Semitism, but rarely of his Cantos). Kurt fills no gaps in the reader's knowledge, explicates hardly any difficult passages in Vonnegut's writings, and offers up no portrait of the great novelist other than the obvious and the redundant. recommended