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So long, Kurt

Yes, he was old. Yes, he led a successful life. And, yes, he was something of an asshole at times. I once saw him make a coed cry at a question-and-answer forum at my university, and he proved to have no sense of humor at all regarding Philip José Farmer's "Kilgore Trout" jest. Still, I was surprised at how saddened I was to learn of Kurt Vonnegut's passing.

And let's be honest about something else as well. All of his books weren't exactly masterpieces. (And were there really only fourteen of them? It certainly seemed like more.) I recall back in college being so disgusted with "Breakfast of Champions" that I threw it against the wall. Still, when he was good, he was goddamned great, a fact that I'm still trying to convince my wife of. She's read frakkin' Proust in its entirety, in French, no less, but still can't seem to find time to work in the slender-spined mini-novels "Slaughterhouse Five" or "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater." Consequently, she probably has no idea why I sometimes answer her questions about human nature and the ways of the world with "See the cat? See the cradle?" So it goes.

Anyway, bummer about Kurt. But I figured it was a good opportunity for me to break radio silence. I've been far too busy to do much blogging this week, but I'm going to try to do better in the days ahead.


He was always entertaining regardless of what you may have thought of any point he was trying to make. And you can't say he wasn't imaginative, as the wildly bizarre Slapstick illustrates. How in hell he came up with a harp showroom with birds flying around...and the "fats" thing, that is, the woman (it's been a long time since I read any of his novels, so my memory is slim on many fine points) called people "fats" because she had a Boston accent? Cracked me up! I've read a lot of science fiction and I don't think I have read any writer, not Philip K. Dick or any of them, who was as imaginative. The stream in Breakfast of Champions that coated the legs with an unbreakable polymer? Just so wild and so out of the blue. Ice-nine? I considered the central theme to all of his work to be that everything has significant and unintended consequences. From Player Piano onwards, that seemed to me the most basic and consistent theme of his novels, and that was why they were so imaginative in that he built these elaborate, wild, unintended consequences.

And he authored my favorite pun of all time: "The Second World War was over-and there I was at high noon, crossing Times Square with a Purple Heart on."

I've always wanted to hate Vonnegut, but he had too profound an effect on me in my impressionable youth.

Slaughterhouse Five is probably the main reason that I am anti-war and anti-authoritarian to this day.

This is so sad I am going to take a leak.

I loved Kurt Vonnegut's books, especially "Breakfast of Champions", which is one of the few books I have ever read more than once.

He was thought provoking, original, and entertaining.

Anyone who has read even a few paragraphs of Proust knows that he was an insufferable bore -- just another puffed up toad (or frog in this case) trying to make himself seem "heavy" when in truth he was a spoiled little Jewish rich kid whose need for editing surpassed Stepen King the way the size of the Sun eclipses a mote of dust.

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