Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007...12:43 am

My Ode To Vonnegut

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Kurt Vonnegut passed away last week and I’m pretty sure the world will miss him. I know I will. Perhaps this obit from the Economist is a more eloquent and informative description than anything I can write but I will give it a try anyway.

Vonnegut’s stories were an ironic mix of satire, dark comedy and fun. His characters are likeable, extraordinary and compelling and his themes are subtle yet powerful and are masterfully revealed through playful plots. Kurt Vonnegut made the world seem ridiculous and precious at the same time. He had the unique gift to turn the harshest facets of life into a joke and maybe make them a little less harsh. He dealt with serious topics (war, religion, humanity) and became both an inspirational and radical voice without taking himself too seriously. Vonnegut didn’t try to be a leader but rather was a free and original thinker who did things his own way. It just so happened that people listened.

I first encountered Vonnegut when I read Slaughterhouse-Five. I was probably a junior or senior in high school and just beginning to explore different kinds of literature on my own. I liked the story because it was easy to get, yet at the same time there was tons of knowledge waiting to be discovered. I’ve gone on to read Cat’s Cradle, Hocus Pocus, Jailbird and Timequake and in each novel there are passages that I read, re-read and then smile because they just seem perfect to me.

Luckily Vonnegut and his unique voice will live forever in his many novels and stories. Here are a few things that Vonnegut said better than anybody else ever has and ever will. I often ask myself (and promise to adore anybody who may ever ask me) if I could be any famous author who would I want to be? I usually say Kerouac for his exuberance and celebration of life but in reality I would do just about anything to see the world through Vonnegut’s eyes.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to read any of his works I strongly recommend that you do.

Here is a recent video interview of Vonnegut. He is wonderful — sharp, witty, outrageously funny and overly ironic. Unfortunately, this all seems to go right over the interviewer’s head. Classic example of Vonnegut in many ways.