Sunday, April 15, 2007

Goodbye Kurt. So it goes.

On Thursday, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., one of my favorite authors, died at the age of 84.

Vonnegut had succeeded Isaac Asimov (my other favorite) as Honorary President of the American Humanists Association. Like Asimov. Vonnegut mastered the communication of complex ideas through simple prose. When Vonnegut eulogized Asimov, he joked that Asimov is up in Heaven now.

If you haven't read Vonnegut's books, it's time to start! Sirens of Titan was a personal favorite, but Slaughterhouse Five is the book he's most famous for (and the literary reference behind "So it goes"); it's a fictional derivative of his experience as a World War II prisoner of war in the aftermath of the Dresden bombing. In his last book, Man Without a Country, Vonnegut laments the lack of direction and leadership in our nation, decrying our government's religious crusades and eco-terrorism with the grumpiness of an old man who just no longer gives a shit. But if you have an issue with commitment, start with the short stories in Welcome to the Monkeyhouse.

I think that looking back on his death, Vonnegut would be pleased that the cause of his expiration was a head injury from falling. Even thirty years before he published God Bless You Dr. Kevorkian, he had written that his sister's dying words, "No pain," was a recurring theme of his works.

Kurt is up in Heaven now.


  1. Hunter S. and now Vonnegut. And before were P.K. Dick and Zelazny. Everyone I read in my formative years seems to be leaving us. Maybe we should just consider it a difficult period of writer's block?

  2. And don't forget Dr. Seuss.