Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Sad Day

Kurt Vonnegut. 1922-2007

The first Vonnegut book I read was Breakfast of Champions. The quick humour, witty drawings and feeling-saturated ending captured my young affection. He wrote shocking, daring, hilarious, outrageously false stories about the truest feelings I knew. He would go on for a page about the genitals and reproductive history of his characters, include illustrations of his interpretation of assholes:





among other things. interspersed with the silliness were poignant images and TRUTH that hit you like a sledgehammer, because you weren't expecting it, you were expecting to laugh. The perception of the artist who put piece of day-glo orange reflecting tape on a bright green canvas haunts me still: "We are all unwavering bands of light." Simple, really.

I loved every Vonnegut book I read. His sharp, cutting sarcasm was always so infatuated with foolish hope, when so many people have taken the opposite approach. He was a misanthropic humanist. He was a doomsday prophet comedian.

I read Galapagos second, I believe. It appealed to me because it was set in Guayaquil. Of course, it diverged a bit from reality when the passengers on the cruise ship turned out to be the only humans on the planet with reproductive capacities. They settled on the Galapagos islands and evolved into seals, since all the miseries of humankind were caused by "the only true villain in my story: the oversized human brain."

Slaughterhouse 5 changed me just as much as it changed anyone who ever read it.

Timequake was another book I read over and over. I wanted to contain within myself the wisdom of the man who could write that, the humour, the comprehension.

All I can say is, you must read Kurt Vonnegut if you respect yourself at all as a human being. Read his articles about war, you can find them everywhere online. Read his short stories, read his interviews, they are always funny. Read his books. Just, read him.



Life here feels a little lonelier without him.


5 comments:

Paul Artson said...

A sad day indeed. Beautiful blog entry.

jacquie said...

not to pressure your travel thoughts...but will we be seeing eachother come may?

Polythene Pam said...

Agreed! I just read Slaughterhouse this Christmas break. It was the first Vonegut I've read. I couldn't even believe it. I would babble on and on about it to anyone who was foolish enough to ask me what I was reading. Incredible. I think I must add another Vonegut or two to my summer reading list... though it is getting a tad long already...

Paul Artson said...

Thought you might like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atABhlMLYvU

Kent said...

Bethany,

Vonnegut was a remarkable author. I first read his early stuff back when I was a teenager. I've read all but the very latest stuff. He reminds me of Mark Twain in that in the end he seemed resigned to this sin curse world and to his own mortality, but I never detected much hope for a life beyond this one. I pray to God that he had faith in Christ as his lord and savior, but as too often the case, I have seen little evidence that he died with that comfort and hope. Of course, only God knows, but it saddens me so much that there never seemed to be a profession of faith. I would surely love a chance to chat with Kurt in the next life!

Kent