Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut

So, farewell then, Kurt. You didn't kill yourself in 1985, though you tried. Instead, you died at 84 after a fall which left you with brain injuries but not before writing your last book in disgust at George W. Bush, A Man Without A Country.

Kurt was a major anti-authoritarian hero, whose work was "characterized by wild leaps of imagination and a deep cynicism, tempered by humanism" (Wiki). "If you really want to disappoint your parents, and don't have the nerve to be gay, go into the arts." he said. I took his advice, and it changed my life.

I read Kurt's book Slaughterhouse Five many, many times as a boy, and I read it aloud several times as a man; it was my second-favourite anti-war novel, the first being either Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, Kurt's close friend, or "Rommell?" "Gunner Who?" by Spike Milligan. All of these marvellous minds saw the surreal and bizarre in the actual, and the ludicrous and often callous posturing of moralizers as a real stain upon humanity.

I read everything I could by Kurt, who was one of my precious pantheon of science-fiction writers, up there with Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Harry Harrison, Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, Brian Aldiss, and I scanned the shelves of the second hand bookshops in Crystal Palace in search of these sacred authors who would invariably take me somewhere out of the London Borough of Croydon, often half-way across an unknown universe, where I would remain happily involved in future adult worlds my parents knew not of. Once I spent several days introducing myself to strangers as Kilgore Trout. I loved Kilgore, he was Kurt in another guise, appearing to himself in his own work and discussing the very pages I was reading. It was an odd thing, a twelve year old, smooth face unmarked by any beard, voice piping and unbroken, claiming a glorious name from American literature.

"This is a very bad book you're writing," I said to myself.
"I know," I said.
"You're afraid you'll kill yourself the way your mother did," I said.
"I know," I said.

Kurt claimed he never won the Nobel prize because his Saab dealership went bankrupt. They should have invented a new Scandinavian nation with it's own prize just for him.

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5 Comments:

At 2:59 PM, Blogger Laurie quoth...

I'm about to start packing for a week at the beach and thought I better check on my friends before I have no internet connection for a week.

Vonnegut was my absolutely favorite author. I'm glad I found out about his death here. Thanks.

 
At 4:51 PM, Blogger Stina quoth...

Hi there,

Sorry for the long post, haven't been able to find an email address for you...
My name is Stina and I am working on six short films for Google about how technology and the internet are changing people’s lives. The films will be shown at Google’s Zeitgeist conference in May, which is a massive event where top media people, politicians and tech people from all over the world gather to brainstorm about the future of the internet and the world.

Tomorrow we are filming the entertainment film in and around Islington. This film is all about user-generated content – we are looking for articulate and avid bloggers and podcasters to give us their view on why you have chosen to express yourself through that particular medium.

A friend recomended your sites and looking through them I think you would be a great person to interview about using the internet in various ways to connect with other people.

The filming would take about hour in total, starting at 5:30pm tomorrow, and you will receive £20 for taking part. Because we are filming tomorrow it would be great if you could contact me as soon as possible to let me know if you would be interested in taking part.

All the best,
Stina

stina@brandfuel.co.uk

 
At 6:33 PM, Blogger La Sirena quoth...

Deek -- What a lovely tribute. I, too, have read and re-read Slaughterhouse Five.

I have to recommend Octavia Butler as one of my all-time favorite (and most underrated) sci-fi writers. She passed away about a year ago. You can usually find her stuff on Amazon or at your local bookstore -- but people rarely get rid of her books, so you pretty much have to buy them new.

Here's her wiki entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octavia_Butler

 
At 1:15 AM, Blogger RuKsaK quoth...

so it goes.

 
At 10:37 AM, Blogger Indigobusiness quoth...

I'm sure going to miss him.

I'll never get through his work, Kurt Vonnegut's words have a way (like no other) of stopping me dead in my tracks...making me think about a line or passage, sometimes for days at a time, while I mull it over.

 

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