Hard Cover. New York: Delacorte Press / Seymour Lawrence, 1976. First Edition. Fine / Very Good.
First edition, first printing. Signed by author on front free endpaper. Publisher's black cloth; in the original dust jacket designed by Paul Bacon with a clown's face to front panel, photo of Vonnegut by Jill Krementz. Fine book; in a very good unclipped dust jacket, with just some offsetting to front panel, free of any chips or tears. Overall, a sharp copy, signed by the author. An autobiographical meditation posed as fiction, this sci-fi novel grasps at the grim realities of Vonnegut's own life, told through the fictional autobiography of his protagonist, Dr. Wilbur Daffodil-11 Swain. In the novel's prologue, Vonnegut explains that his sister died from cancer in 1958, just two days after her husband was killed in a train accident. Of the three children they left behind, two were adopted by Vonnegut, while the third was raised by other relatives. Like much of Vonnegut's work, Slapstick weaves together a critique of government and society with themes of estranged families and fears of loneliness in a dystopian world. The novel tells of Dr. Swain and his twin sister, Eliza, who are born deformed and deemed mentally challenged by their caretakers and parents, who keep them isolated from society because of their strange behavior. Though unremarkable as individuals, when their bodies connect, the twins activate the full extent of their extraordinary mental abilities. While Eliza is sent to live in a mental institution, Dr. Swain goes on to become highly educated, and is eventually elected President of an albeit fractured and chaotic United States, seeking to end the widespread loneliness he sees in the world. Notably, the book was not well received by critics, and Vonnegut's later works would stray from his characteristic sci-fi style in favor of more ordinary series of events.