Novelist and essayist Kurt Vonnegut has left those of us stuck in time, at 84.
Vonnegut was my first adult literary hero. While I have never been, and may never be, a well-read fiction fan, once I first discovered Vonnegut, I was hooked and read everything I could get my hands on. By happenstance I read his first novel, Player Piano, first. Most readers, I think, first encounter one of his better known works like Slaughter-House Five or Breakfast of Champions. For them, Player Piano, with its conventional narrative structure, must be a bit of a let down. I came closer to reading the evolving Vonnegut, which I highly recommend.
It's been a long time since I cracked one of his novels, which is regrettable. But probably I would have "gotten" David Foster Wallace and Michael Chabon if I hadn't started with Vonnegut. For the record, I think Breakfast of Champions is his funniest, Cat's Cradle his most heartbreaking, Mother Night the most thought provoking and God Bless You Mr. Rosewater my all-around favorite.
So here's to a life well lived and an admirable literary legacy.
Thursday, April 12, 2007