Thursday, April 12, 2007

God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut


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.



ohdave said...

Player Piano is one of his most political novels.

My personal favorite is Mother Night, for the ethical and moral issues it raises that don't seem to appear anywhere else. The lesson "be careful what you pretend to be becasue you are what you pretend to be" is meaningful and relevant universally.

Deeply saddened.

matt r. said...

slaughterhouse is a classic that every high school student should have to read.

my personal favorite is cat's cradle. imagine the key to destroying the earth was derived from staring at the way cannon balls were stacked on courthouse lawns.