Books: Money Matters

JAILBIRD by Kurt Vonnegut Delacorte; 277 pages; $9.95

Fame has a way of ruining a writer's reputation. Take the case of Kurt Vonnegut, who became a cult figure in the late '60s after enduring years of hard-earned obscurity. A growing army of high school and college readers began proclaiming him a deep thinker, at about the same time that critics started cuffing him for being a shallow artist. Both judgments were wrong. Vonnegut has never written a thought that could not occur to a sporadically meditative teenager, nor has he pretended to; those who...

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