"Hocus Pocus" was Vonnegut’s second-to-last novel, published in 1990.
The novel is the story of Eugene Debs Hartke, a veteran of the Vietnam War turned college professor. Hartke’s name is an amalgamation of famous socialist leader Eugene V. Debs and Vance Hartke, a famous anti-war senator from Indiana.
"Hocus Pocus" is a very disjointed narrative, a device Vonnegut is well known for. The narrator claims to have found it written on various scraps of paper, bar napkins and the like, and pieced it together into a semi-coherent narrative. This gives the story an episodic nature and allows Vonnegut the liberty of ending chapters with his own brand of ironic “punchline."
Hartke, like Vonnegut, often refers to his wartime experiences and uses them as a frame for his current existence.
The plot of "Hocus Pocus" concerns a prison break and subsequent occupation of a nearby college, where Hartke is a professor. In the aftermath, the college itself is converted into a new prison and Hartke becomes the new warden.
If you’ve developed the ability to follow and enjoy a disjointed narrative by reading Vonnegut’s other works, you’re sure to enjoy "Hocus Pocus."