Friday, April 13, 2007

God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut

Earlier this year, the city of Indianapolis declared 2007 to be the Year of Kurt Vonnegut. It has turned out to be the year Kurt Vonnegut died.

For me, the year of Kurt Vonnegut occurred some time in the mid-seventies, when I stumbled upon, in no particular order, The Sirens of Titan and Cat's Cradle and Breakfast of Champions. Much later I would come to Slaughterhouse Five, the tale of Billy Pilgrim and his abduction by aliens to the planet of Tralfamadore.

Vonnegut was a Freethinker, a religous skeptic. He wrote of making a group of friends laugh by saying of a recently dear-departed, "He's in heaven now." But he also wrote that the purpose of life was to serve as "the eyes and ears of the creator." (Then again, he also wrote "We're here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anyone tell you different.")

Over the years I have read every one of Vonnegut's novels, all of his nonfiction books, and as many of his essays as I could find. His was the voice of cosmic irony and human absurdity. He had it right.

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