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.