Friday, April 20, 2007

God Bless You, Kurt Vonnegut

Well, it's old news that Kurt Vonnegut died (I heard while I was on vacation). I was incredibly saddened, as I rarely am at the routine passing of celebrities. Vonnegut is someone I felt I knew through his writing. I was lucky enough to see him speak once at the University of Chicago where there was an incredible line and Red and I were two of the last people to make it inside before the authorities said we'd reached legal capacity and shut the big metal double-doors on hundreds more who wanted to see him. He was wonderful, witty and sarcastic and generous and, of course, smoking. There were plenty of tributes online, but I especially enjoyed this 2005 A.O. Scott article I found. Also, Dave Eggers' guide to Vonnegut in The Reader's Guide to Contemporary Authors is an enjoyable overview, a great place for beginners to start.

Slaughterhouse Five is one of my favorite books of all time. It helped shape my attitude towards fiction. And life! (I recently compiled my personal top ten books, but more on that another day.) I also loved Breakfast of Champions and I was also impressed by Cat's Cradle, Welcome to the Monkey House, and Sirens of Titan. I was somewhat disappointed by the early Player Piano but I still found it enjoyable and brimming with exciting ideas. Based on opinions I've read, I'd like to read Mother Night and Galapagos next. I'm so glad I still have some major Vonnegut novels ahead of me. Loving Vonnegut's work helped me learn to love books. He'll always be a hero of mine.


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