God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut

Books

Like many of you I’m sure, I cut my literary teeth on Kurt Vonnegut, who died early this morning. My dad gave me three of Vonnegut’s books–Breakfast of Champions, Slaughterhouse Five, and The Sirens of Titan–when I was about eleven or twelve. It’s a cliché, but these books really did change my life forever. In the next couple of years, I devoured everything Vonnegut wrote. My favorite book of his was and is Cat’s Cradle, which I think surpasses both Mother Night and Slaughterhouse Five as his most important work. As I grew older, I began to reject Vonnegut, to see him as not as serious or profound as the authors I was reading. His later books like Hocus Pocus and the truly-lamentable Timequake didn’t help either. Nevertheless, I read them as soon as they came out in paperback. I had to. I had to read everything he wrote. Celebrate Vonnegut’s life by reading one of his books, and remember what got you into reading in the first place.

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3 thoughts on “God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut

  1. quite possibly my favorite author of all time. even those lesser novels you mentioned consistently made me question my world view and his uncanny sense of irony always reminded me that i (and all of us) are just big dumb apes and any idea we had to the contrary was just highfalutin. cat’s cradle was my first, and will always be my favorite as well. perhaps i’ll personally pay tribute by rereading it (again.)

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  2. i know this is a way late reaction, and i don’t know if you’re even notified of comments this far back, but what specifically did you not like about Timequake? i know for sure it was a mess, like publishing a notebook, but i loved the sentimentality of all of it, especially the end.

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    1. Alex, it’s been nearly a decade since I read Timequake, so I don’t know if I can offer up specifics. I recall that the narrative was a shambles, the prose was full of stock phrases (from Vonnegut’s own stock, to be fair), and that it just sort of rambled pointlessly all over the place without being interesting or profound. It struck me as the work of an exhausted writer.

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