Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.; 1922-2007

He survived the fire-bombing of Dresden because his German captors had him, and other POWs, working in an underground meat locker when the raid started. That experience was the basis of his novel Slaughterhouse Five, and no doubt contributed to his pessimistic world view (that, and being brought up in the Dutch Reformed Church, which he described as "a very tough church, indeed.").

My favorite of his works is God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, about a saintly eccentric who sprang from the same southern Indiana milieu as did my father. It has a deliriously happy ending, concluding with the words, "Be fruitful and multiply." This is in stark contrast to Cat's Cradle, which ends with the extinction of life on earth because of a military experiment gone awry.

He and I used to take the waters at the Lion's Head, though I never met him. I guess, however, that makes us both members of a granfalloon.

TenaciousK has a nice tribute on WikiFray, with a link to the New York Times obit. ("Kilgore Trout" was a fictional sci-fi writer who was a character in several of Vonnegut's novels, and whose masterwork was a novel called Venus on the Half Shell. In 1974, another writer, Philip Jose Farmer, published a novel with that title under the pseudonym Kilgore Trout. Vonnegut was displeased with this, as it was widely assumed he was the author, so Farmer had it republished under his own name. I assume, though I don't know, that "Kilgore Trout" was a play on the name of another sci-fi writer, Theodore Sturgeon.)

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate this post. I'm joining several other fans in re-reading Kurt's books that I haven't read in many years.