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Remembering Kurt Vonnegut Thursday, April 12, 2007

#1 User is offline   Chefelf Icon

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Posted 12 April 2007 - 09:19 AM

Remembering Kurt Vonnegut

I woke up this morning to find out that Kurt Vonnegut, probably my favorite author of all time, had passed away. It's only been a few hours but I'm already annoyed with the inevitable deluge of stories 'cleverly' using the phrase, "So it goes." Just as writers couldn't help themselves from a few thousand, "So long and thanks for all the fish." comments when Douglas Adams passed away.

My friend Paul turned me on to Kurt Vonnegut in my early teens. I remember reading The Sirens of Titan under my parents' cherry tree one summer in between grades in junior high school. It was there that I came to the false conclusion that Vonnegut was a science fiction writer. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

Over the next year I made it my goal to read everything he ever wrote which I did over the next six to eight months. The only books that I read immediately after their release were Hocus Pocus and Timequakes seeing that the main body of his work was written prior to my birth.

While I haven't read anything by Vonnegut recently, he often springs to mind as a silent influence in my life. I often found myself wondering how he could possibly still be alive given his age and his constant smoking of filterless cigarettes.

I used to read his books in school. Not because my teachers had asked me to, but rather because his books were so much more interesting than what my teachers had asked me to read. I have an obsessive personality and I was quite obsessed with Vonnegut, even writing my own book(s) which uncontrollably took on his style. I was always fascinated with how he could give away the ending and still make the story suspenseful and interesting as he lead up to the events you already knew about. When the main character (often in the first person) would say something like, "It's a shame that my best friend will die on page 88 and the Earth will become unstable and explode on page 227." you would think that the story had been ruined. But it never was.

The most vivid memory I have of reading one of his books was from the book Player Piano. It was one of his first books (if not his first) so I read it towards the end of my crusade to read his complete works. It's not his most memorable book. It was not his best. First books are often not that great. But for some reason I distinctly remember reading a paragraph where he vividly described the main character looking at a white wall or building on a sunny day. He described the glare of the sun off the fresh white paint so exactly that my pupils actually dilated while I read it and I remember for a slight instant, the words on the page becoming difficult to read if only for a moment. Seldom has anything like that happened to me while reading a book. I rarely get that lost in a book, particularly during a book that I would only describe as, "Slightly above average."

To me that was a strange but wonderful reminder of the power of Vonnegut's writing.
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Posted 12 April 2007 - 11:21 AM

My favorite of his was "Breakfast of Champions", still in the top 3 of my all-time favorite books by anyone.

I remember thinking, while reading it, "if more people read this, things would change".

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Posted 12 April 2007 - 05:28 PM

For me it was always Cat's Cradle. My first online identity was "Bokonon," and I kept that up for a few years. Later I found on different forums and sites it would already be taken, so I stopped using it. Kurt Vonnegut was certainly great; even when he was bad (Galapagos) there would be some pretty good moments. I liked that his favourite author was Mark Twain.
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Posted 02 February 2008 - 09:57 PM

Sorry to necropost....

Here's a great interview with Kurt Vonnegut.

He's exactly how I'd expect him to be. A very pleasent man and extremely humble.

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