Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kilgore Trout is dead. So it goes.

I have lots of things to write about soon, but Kurt Vonnegut has died. I don't think there's a reading person my age--much less a writer--who has not been stopped in their tracks by a Vonnegut creation. For me, and for a lot of us, Vonnegut was one of the first writers that tore us out of the slumber of junior high, high school and college reading lists. He wrote comics, comedy, sci-fi and horror with a healthy pinch of porn thrown in. Up until yesterday, he was probably the single most influential living writer in America. I can't imagine later Philip Roth or Jonathan Safran Foer, Douglas Glover, Tim O'Brien, James Morrow, or anything ever published by Dave Eggers or McSweeneys, etc. without Kurt Vonnegut. I know he's informed almost every piece of fiction I've loved since I was 13, when, one rainy week, I devoured Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions (the entirety of the Vonnegut section of my junior high library)--hardly grasping the hard-won truth of any of it, but feeling it, feeling Something Important (and Really Fucking Funny, With Drawings of Buttholes and Everything!) anyway. I've gone back to him again. And again, and will again. It's horrible, but part of his genius is that the world as he foretold it has slid even further down the morass to strongly resemble that place. Or maybe it hasn't changed much at all. That might be even worse.

He taught me the word "luddite." He wrote about what it was like to be a human being, as pathetic and sorry as that enterprise can be. He was a cynic who wanted us all to be kind to each other.

The NYT has a nice, long obit. My favorite lit blogger, Maud Newton, has links and links to links.

Thank you, Mr. Vonnegut.


Blogger Naomi said...

I bought his last book called A man without a country. I read it in two days, it was really good.

12:56 PM  

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