2007/04/12

"So it goes" - Kurt Vonnegut Jr., 1922 - 2007

It's been a sad year as two of my favorite writers, Stanislaw Lem and now Kurt Vonnegut Jr., have passed away.

My introduction to Vonnegut started with Slaughterhouse-Five at a very early age, and like many novels I read as a teen, I think that I understood something about it then that I can't quite grasp now. No matter. My consumption of Vonnegut didn't end until his own fiction-writing did, with Timequakes, a bitter-sweet end to a monumental career.

As a frequent visitor to NYC, I had always hoped to catch glimpse of Vonnegut--perhaps to encounter him at a coffee shop and be able to tell him how much I enjoyed his writing. I'm sad that now it will never happen.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. died yesterday of injuries that he received in a fall. He was 84. So it goes.

22 Comments:

sad. What a great writer.
I didn't know he died. Very sad. RIP, Kurt.
he was in my top 5 favorites.
"there's only one rule i know of, babies-goddamn it, you've got to be kind."
...sigh.
I do wish there were more folks who could express themselves as wonderfully, including the how bizzarely he was able to approach the equally twisted realities of human behaviours and activities.

Mostly, I'm really glad I got to experience his work while he still workin' it.

L8
Graeme, Lizzy... Indeed. Vonnegut's passing is very sad. I didn't even know that he'd been injured. Apparently the fall that caused the trauma he died from happened two weeks ago.

Annie... Vonnegut's way of telling us about 'The Golden Rule'. Right up there with the apocryphal, "Use suncreen". ;-)

Michael... Vonnegut could get at the human motvation (or lack thereof) like no author I know.

BTW: Are you a fan of Harlan Ellison? Not quite in Vonnegut's league for novel-lenght works, but as a short-story writer? Ellison can't be touched.
kvatch, I used to bump into Vonnegut a few times a year in NYC. He lived near Katherine Hepburn, which was roughly 49th St, east of 3rd Avenue.

It was typically mid-day, around lunch hour that I would see him. My office, in those days was on 3rd Ave and 45th St. When we crossed paths, I always experienced a small shock of recognition. He always seemed to sense the sudden movement of my eyes in his direction. As he passed, he'd watch me for a second, probably to determine if I might attempt to stop him for an autograph or a chat.

I never tried. Didn't want to spoil anything in case he wasn't the conversationalist one would hope for after reading a few of his novels. Worse, I thought it was possible he might tell me to buzz off, which might have destroyed my appreciation for his work.

He was on the tall side. Looked like his photos. Couldn't miss him, actually. Meanwhile, I never saw anyone stop him. But I've seen plenty of other big names, and watched as their fans accosted them.
no_slappz... Well that would explain why I never had a Vonnegut sighting. I was looking in the wrong place. I'd always assumed (thought perhaps I'd read it somewhere) that he lived on the Upper East side. Just a bit too far north. As you say, it was probably good that I never encountered him. I might have been one of those over-eager "fans". Though I did hear that he was tolerant, even generous, with fans that imposed on him.

[sigh] A great loss.
I always expected to see him while haunting down town Ithaca in my youth, you'd never know when he'd stop in on his old alma matter. Never did though, never saw more than what he revealed in those pages...
This is really a terrible loss. He wrote some great books; had incredible insights. RIP.
Fred... Though many critics wouldn't agree, for at least two generations of Americans, Vonnegut may have been the best author of his time.

Tom... Agreed. RIP, Kurt.
Slaughterhouse Five will forever remain a favorite. I remember thinking as I first read it that Vonnegut had tapped into the time travel concept in such a unique way -- not just going fwd or back, but becoming UNHINGED in time. I think that's where he is now, simply unhinged in time. RIP, Billy Pilgrim, Kilgore Trout, et al. ~~ D.K.
It's sad too that it took his death to get the novels back on the top of the selling list, overtaking several romance novels.

50 years from now they will be part of the canon of literature, studied as true classics.
A revolutionary writer--I enjoyed reading his works.
All I remember is that I did enjoy the few Ellison stories I came across when I was in HS. Glad you asked me that. He is one of those guys I've intended to find in my Library but have yet to stumble 'crost. Probably cuz he's in the anthologies. I'll have to utilize the ol' 'puter when I take my current book back.

Thx frog.
I just read "Slaughterhouse-Five" a few months ago. It is the only book I think I have read by Vonnegut, but I hope to change that soon.
I didn't know Stanislaw Lem had passed away too. Too bad, I hadn't read much of his work, but what I had was mind blowing. I often reference The Futurological Conference with respect to Bubble Boy Bush, and my theory that, like Lem's protagonist, Bush is kept entirely insulated from reality with a wide array of state-of -the-art psychoactive pharmaceuticals. This would explain why, when he travels, some Secret Service personnel are detailed to make sure his urine and feces don't fall into the wrong hands. How weird is that?!?
I don't which is sadder, the fact that he has passed, or here not being another writer of his stature to take his place.
I share your sadness. I too, was a rabid fan of the great man.
Making up for lost ground this evening (been traveling all day), and I'd love to answer all of your excellent comments but I'm going to just have to just focus on a few.

Michael... For Ellison check out 'Angry Candy'. It's an awesome collection.

SadButTrue... This was my post on Lem's passing.
“When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in a bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is ‘So it goes’.”
Thanks, kvatch. :)
Nvisiblewmn... Thanks for the quote. I'd forgotten exactly where "so it goes" came from.

Sadbuttrue... You're very welcome. If you get the chance read Lem's 'Mortal Engines'. It's truly an outstanding collection.

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