4.12.2007

God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut has died.

25 comments:

LJCohen said...

And so it goes. . .

A unique voice has been stilled.

Dan Leo said...

I suspected you wouldn't fail to mention Mr. Vonnegut's passing. Even though he didn't believe in God (especially any sort of God capable of blessing anyone), to paraphrase one of his titles, "God bless you, Miss Snark." Both as a man and as a writer, Kurt was one of the great ones, one of the original ones, one of the irreplaceable ones.

Aelf'en said...

*weeps* :(

trenchgold said...

The Breakfast of Champions is a martini.

Hopefully he meant a gin-martini.

Rest in peace.

Southern Writer said...

Repeated around the world today, like a ringing of bells, "And so it goes." This is a very sad start to the morning.

claud said...

A commenter at Salon.com said it best, I think: "Now mud lies down and goes to sleep."

And absolutely, God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut.

Anonymous said...

Oh, this makes me so sad. I bumped into him once. I was in an old book store and turned the corner to go to the other side and he was doing the same from the other direction. I was embarrassed, he wasn't. Thank God I had on of his books in my hand. ;)

Kate Thornton said...

I am saddened at his passing - he taught me to really read, not just look at words.

wannabe_nitwit said...

And so it goes.

May his voice never be forgotten

Gaia Girl said...

We will miss your voice, Mr. Vonnegut. And so it goes.

Petrea Burchard said...

He happened in our lifetime! There is cause to grieve at his passing, and cause to celebrate his living. He made jewels and left them for us.

In his book, Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction, Vonnegut stated that there are eight rules for writing a short story.

"1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

4. Every sentence must do one of two things -- reveal character or advance the action.

5. Start as close to the end as possible.

6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them -- in order that the
reader may see what they are made of.

7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages."

I don't have a favorite of his books, but I used to want to become chrono synclastic infundibulated.

Manic Mom said...

I just read this. Well, now he is in that big writing room up in the sky.

Chumplet said...

I took a Science Fiction course in high school, and Slaughterhouse Five was required reading. I really enjoyed it.

LorMar said...

My favorite Kurt Vonnegut piece is Harrison Bergeron. Much can be learned from that story.

Tawna Fenske said...

I dug out my tattered, disintegrating copy of Player Piano last night after I read the news of his passing. I discovered that my four favorite pages in the entire book have gone missing. Probably just the result of lugging an elderly paperback around for too long, but it felt somehow significant.

We'll miss you, Kurt.

Tawna
r

metasailor said...

On writing, I also like another quote of Vonnegut's - I think it might be in Bagombo Snuff Box, too. It was how writing was unlike almost all other mediums - you put down a thought, and then you can come back to it and make it better, and better, and sooner or later you can't help but make something halfway intelligent.

Modest to a fault, and at the same time inspiring to others - in short, a great man.

Hope that, among many other things, he's having fun in a coffee shop in Heaven, or a bar, trading stories with Hunter S.

Annie said...

Aw hell is right.

When I was 12, I discovered Mr. Vonnegut's world, and read all his books within three weeks. I didn't get much sleep.

Truly a sad day.

"A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved."

Matt said...

*weeping echoed*

Taught me that you should write like yourself, even if you happen to be a Hoosier.

Matt said...

And that's to paraphrase TWO of his book titles. Today I can't forget "God Bless You Dr. Kevorkian."

Writer on Board said...

God bless you, Mr. Vonnegut!

Cameron said...

Weird, passionate, inspired and a bloody good writer.

It's a crappy day.

michaelgav said...

I've been chewing on this all day.

I fell in love with his stuff when I was about sixteen, fell out of love about ten years later, although I was always grateful for what he'd done. And I always respected the sheer balls it must have taken to do a lot of what he did at his best. Think of the audacity of building a religion on a skinny Calypso singer. Or the sweet faith it must've taken to write that scene in Slaughterhouse Five where Billy Pilgrim watches the World War II movie backwards, and it ends with American women dismantling the bombs and scientists burying their ingredients deep into the earth where they would never hurt anyone again.

I think Vonnegut did something in the early 70s that we haven't seen since, and may not see again. He made it cool for young people to read -- and enjoy -- books that asked Big Questions (What is the purpose of Life? Is there a God?) and were filled with Big Ideas. It was a brief hiatus in the general drift away from the printed word, lasting only from Slaughterhouse Five through the aftermath of the publication of Breakfast of Champions, three or four years later. But he was everywhere then, and I think we're all better for that.

Narya said...

I'm with Anne. KV changed my life when I was about 12, which means about 1970 (in my case, I happened upon "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" because I was sick of YA fiction and had migrated to the adult fiction section of my small-town library).

Bill Thompson said...

Mr. Vonnegut is responsible for one of my best memories.

I've been interviewing authors on the radio for 22 years, and the web for seven. One day a few years ago I had a scheduled interview with Jill Krementz (aka Mrs. Vonnegut). When she arrived at my studios, I went to the lobby to greet her, turned the corner, and saw .. him. Words largely fail me, but the feeling was similar to what might happen if the IRS had not only sent me a refund check, but a waiver from all taxes for the next ten years.

Before I could figure out a tactful way to ask permission to interview him as well as her (remember, Jill was the one I was scheduled to interview), she said the words that sent my heart soaring. She turned to Mr. V. and said, "Why don't you come on into the studio with us?" Yes!

Her book was "The Writer's Desk," a collection of photos of authors at work -- including, of course, Kurt Vonnegut. So, after our interview, he signed his page in my copy of her book, including a clever self-caricature. You bet it's one of my most-cherished literary possessions.

Bless you Kurt Vonnegut. RIP.

Kelly said...

A friend of mine, attractive young woman, knew him through her parents. When she was 20 or so and he was late 60s, he asked her (parents watching) to go have sex in the bathroom.
She declined. I hope I'm doing that as I near 70.