Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut has come unstuck in time

Novelist Kurt Vonnegut, the ‘son and grandson of architects’, was born in Indianapolis on November 11, 1922 (Veterans Day in the U.S., Poppy Day in Canada). I read that he died in New York City on April 11, 2007 – last night.

That made me sad.

I didn’t know Kurt Vonnegut personally, though I, (like millions of his readers, I suppose) felt like I did. His short fiction, novels, plays and collections of essays opened my mind to new worlds, new ideas, new ways of thinking, new forms of humanity. He made a turn of the phrase delicious to read. He was bitterly funny, ironic, honest, smart as a whip and a truly original voice. And what stories!


I started reading his books in high school and have read and re-read them (many more than once). I remember the sheer joy I experienced when I heard about or stumbled across a new (or new to me) Vonnegut book. Whenever this happened, I felt like a kid on a roller coaster, about to embark on the ride of my life.

And it always was.

It was Vonnegut’s novels that inspired me to write. That shaped my approach to life. That taught me I could start a sentence with ‘and’.

He was a remarkable human being who will live on through his work.

Let me remember Kurt Vonnegut by quoting one of Bokonon’s Calypsos (from Cat’s Cradle):

‘Oh a sleeping drunkard up in Central Park
And a lion hunter in the jungle dark
And a Chinese dentist and a British queen all fit together in the same machine
Nice, nice, very nice
Nice, nice, very nice
Nice, nice very nice
So many people in the same device…’

So we are. So it goes.

Thank you, Kurt Vonnegut. And rest in peace. To borrow from Slaughterhouse Five, 'Poo-tee-weet?'

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