Deadeye Dick

AMERICA’S GREATEST SATIRIST

KURT VONNEGUT IS…

“UNIQUE … one of the writers who map our landscapes for us, who give names to the places we know best.”

—DORIS LESSING,

The New York Times Book Review

“OUR FINEST BLACK-HUMORIST.… We laugh in self-defense.”

—The Atlantic Monthly

“AN UNIMITATIVE AND INIMITABLE SOCIAL SATIRIST.”

—Harper’s Magazine

“A CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION.”

—Chicago Sun-Times

“A LAUGHING PROPHET OF DOOM.”

—The New York Times

DEADEYE DICK

“A brilliantly unconventional novel … a must for all Vonnegut fans.”

—Worcester Sunday Telegram

“Hits the bull’s-eye … dolefully celebrates the randomness of life, treating private and public disasters with a kind of reckless whimsy.… You don’t read Kurt Vonnegut for meaning exactly. You read him for the sad-funny attitude of mind, the kind of weirdness that can interpret the world’s weirdness.”

—USA Today

“Vonnegut is as beguiling as ever … Incredible plot constructions and inventive language continue to leap from his typewriter … the humor is natural and inborn; the insight usually purchased by his characters at painfully high cost. Funny how life turns out. Even funnier how Mr. Vonnegut turns life’s insanities into funny, profound sense. That takes a master’s touch. Mr. Vonnegut still has it.”

—Kansas City Star

“Good news for an American public which can pretty obviously use much of Vonnegut’s honesty, moral vision, and revulsion for mankind’s stupidities as it can get.… Vonnegut’s bittersweet sensibility … somehow manages to hold horror and humor, disgust and whimsical acceptance, in almost perfect equilibrium.… In Deadeye Dick, the Vonnegut trademark with language—the simple, childlike rhetoric which has the effect of unmasking the absurdity of so much that we take for granted—remains in fine working order.… In [Dark Ages] such as these, it remains a pleasure to have Kurt Vonnegut around to shed light on our circumstances.”

—San Diego Union

“Playful and imaginative … Deadeye Dick is so lambently lighthearted that when it’s over, you barely remember that it contains a death by radioactivity, a double murder—a decapitation, a blizzard that kills hundreds, and … the annihilation of an entire city by a neutron bomb.… On finishing the novel, the kitchen of your mind is a cleaner and more well-lighted place than it was before.”

—Houston Chronicle

“Wonderfully inventive, full of anecdote and wit and comedic insouciance.”

—South Bend Tribune

“Kurt Vonnegut is a humorist of the first rank; in breadth and quality his corpus approaches even Twain’s.”

—Bestsellers

“A kind of celebration of the way we weather disaster … endearing and enchanting … a wise and charming book … very full of life.”

—Glamour

“Vonnegut gives pity ‘a cutting edge.’ ”

—The Washington Times

“Winsomely ambiguous in its simplicity, funny/sad with human reality. [Deadeye Dick shows Vonnegut] in mellow, splendid form.”

—Library Journal

“Vonnegut novels range from very good to great. Count Deadeye Dick among the great.… His unique, colorful, powerful style … continues to touch both readers and truth.”

—Nashville Banner

BOOKS BY KURT VONNEGUT

Bluebeard

Breakfast of Champions

Cat’s Cradle

Deadeye Dick

Galápagos

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

Jailbird

Mother Night

Palm Sunday

Player Piano

The Sirens of Titan

Slapstick

Slaughterhouse-Five

Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons

Welcome to the Monkey House

For Jill

PREFACE

“DEADEYE DICK,” like “Barnacle Bill,” is a nickname for a sailor. A deadeye is a rounded wooden block, usually bound with rope or iron, and pierced with holes. The holes receive a multiplicity of lines, usually shrouds or stays, on an old-fashioned sailing ship. But in the American Middle West of my youth, “Deadeye Dick” was an honorific often accorded to a person who was a virtuoso with firearms.

So it is a sort of lungfish of a nickname. It was born in the ocean, but it adapted to life ashore.

• • •

There are several recipes in this book, which are intended as musical interludes for the salivary glands. They have been inspired by James Beard’s American Cookery, Marcella Hazan’s The Classic Italian Cook Book, and Bea Sandler’s The