Thursday, April 12, 2007

So it goes...

Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.
-Kurt Vonnegut

News has just reached my desk that the world's most revered Humanist, Kurt Vonnegut, has died. His fatalistic, morally quixotic and dubiously contrived works, including his most famous novel Slaughterhouse Five, earned him the fame that eluded him early in life.

I remember during our trip to San Francisco, we made a few stops at City Lights Books, a Beat Generation mainstay with poetry and philosophy from every continent a large contingent on its shelves. Vonnegut was the only thing that quenched my literary appetite, and I left City Lights with a new copy of Slaugherhouse Five and Breakfast of Champions. If you haven't read these Vonnegut classics, you're missing out.

Vonnegut was a man that wrote in such a way that compelled you to at least try to understand ideas that would normally be repulsive. His style was dictated by his early years as a hard-news journalist, a reporter at a Chicago newspaper's city desk. That style made his novels easy to read, easy to follow and easily consumed by readers that may not be so adept with philosophy. He's told stories of near-death tea parties with modern icons and has attracted a diverse yet critical following with tales of planets far away and people near and dear.

Vonnegut died due to brain injuries from a fall several weeks ago.


Olivia said...

I shall take this as a recommendation then...that's me 22 books behind now!

MattJ said...

Slaughterhouse Five is one of those books I had always heard about but bizarrely it was the comedian I went ot see a few weeks ago that made me hear of the author, released one of Kurt's books into the wild. he waxed lyrical about him on his blog for ages, and was saddened by his death. I have a feeling that when i read his books i'll feel a bit of a fraud having discovered him post mortem, but at least I'll have done so ;)

Olivia said...

I saw a guy reading Vonnegut in the park today and wondered if he did it only because of the recent publicity. That would be a good thing, of course.