Kurt Vonnegut Jr., writer, teacher, and war veteran, died on April 11, 2007 in Manhattan, New York. He was 84 years old.
I know the old gentleman, if only through his books. And so I am saddened.
My first Vonnegut novel, picked up entirely by virtue of its markdown price, was Galapagos. I liked it so much I soon read Jailbird, its companion in the purchase. I found Vonnegut's work to be ironic, desperate, and sad. Much like the human condition, I suppose.
Now a Vonnegut fan, I went on to two other books, Slaughterhouse Five and its sideways sequel Mother Night. Their influence resounds with me still. "Be careful what you pretend to be, because what you pretend to be is what you are."
Vonnegut also appeared in the 80's comedy flick Back to School. Rodney Dangerfield Jr. hired him to ghostwrite an essay on his own book, which the unwitting professor angrily denounced: "That's not what he meant!"
Just last February, I read Sirens of Titan, and though it was in many ways similar to Slaughterhouse Five, I still enjoyed it very much.
And now, he's gone.
I can say nothing more except:
Picture from Harvard Square Library