Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut: November 11, 1922 - April 11, 2007

Vonnegut-752991My story is not unlike a multitude of others, many of who became lifelong admirers of Vonnegut's fiction. I was in college. A friend had slipped me a copy of Slaughterhouse-Five which I immediately read cover to cover. Down to his style, it was unlike anything else I've read.

My first literary crush was on Salinger, I thought The Catcher in the Rye was written just for me. That was until I found out that there were several million kids just like myself who thought the exact same thing. Then, I fell in love with Vonnegut, and this wasn't puppy love, this was head-over-heels, fat-kid-and-chocolate-cake kind of love. Half the fun of reading Vonnegut is sharing your experience with other fans, and converting new ones. Since then I've permanently loaned "Slaughterhouse" along with several other Vonnegut classics to friends. That's the miracle of Vonnegut, his work is the currency of the disenfranchised hipster with a heart of gold. Although he had a misanthropic streak in him, he was always funny, and radiated a warmth in his writing nobody else could match. Every author wanted to be him.

Always topical Vonnegut's last book, Man without a Country, demonstrated how sharp the guy was even until the very end. On The Daily Show in 2005 he said this of evolution:

"I do feel that evolution is being controlled by some sort of divine engineer. I can't help thinking that. And this engineer knows exactly what he or she is doing and why, and where evolution is headed. That’s why we’ve got giraffes and hippopotami and the clap."
When "Country" was published and he appeared on Realtime and PBS, he was funny, but he looked bad. He appeared more haggard than normal and age had damaged his voice. A few weeks before he died Kurt had fallen, his condition worsened. Kurt Vonnegut died at the age of 84, and he will be missed.

"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:


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