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Kurt Vonnegut Dies at 84
April 11, 2007 8:10 PM   Subscribe

Kurt Vonnegut, Writer of Classics of the American Counterculture, Dies at 84 "His death was reported by Morgan Entrekin, a longtime family friend, who said Mr. Vonnegut suffered brain injuries as a result of a fall several weeks ago. Mr. Vonnegut wrote plays, essays and short fiction. But it was his novels that became classics of the American counterculture, making him a literary idol, particularly to students in the 1960s and ’70s. Dog-eared paperback copies of his books could be found in the back pockets of blue jeans and in dorm rooms on campuses throughout the United States." .
posted by landedjentry (616 comments total) 69 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by fizzix at 8:12 PM on April 11, 2007


Telling it straight to the very end...

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posted by ashbury at 8:12 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by mek at 8:13 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by seawallrunner at 8:13 PM on April 11, 2007


Great writer. Damn.
posted by tellurian at 8:13 PM on April 11, 2007


So it goes.

My favorite author, ever. Rest in peace.
posted by christonabike at 8:13 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


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posted by boo_radley at 8:13 PM on April 11, 2007


I was just reading Sirens of Titan.

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posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 8:14 PM on April 11, 2007


Great writer. Damn.
posted by tellurian at 8:13 PM on April 11 [+]
[!]


Heh.
posted by docgonzo at 8:14 PM on April 11, 2007


recent piece in Rolling Stone.
posted by mek at 8:14 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by sudasana at 8:14 PM on April 11, 2007


oh my god
posted by timory at 8:15 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by interrobang at 8:15 PM on April 11, 2007


&nbsp .
. . .
&nbsp .
&nbsp .
posted by tehloki at 8:15 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by lumensimus at 8:16 PM on April 11, 2007


Great. One of my favorite writers just died and now metafilter knows I can't html my way out of a wet paper bag.
posted by tehloki at 8:16 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


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posted by F Mackenzie at 8:16 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by beaucoupkevin at 8:17 PM on April 11, 2007


How very sad. He'll be sorely missed.
posted by Zonker at 8:17 PM on April 11, 2007


This planet is a more interesting place for having had Kurt Vonnegut in it.
posted by interrobang at 8:17 PM on April 11, 2007 [4 favorites]


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posted by re.becca at 8:17 PM on April 11, 2007


Man, what a bummer. He was one of the greats.
posted by mathowie at 8:18 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by huskerdont at 8:18 PM on April 11, 2007


RIP, great one.
posted by jonmc at 8:18 PM on April 11, 2007


*





i love my dog-eared paperback copies of his books in large part because i could fit them in my back pocket.

also. they're pretty good.
posted by pokermonk at 8:18 PM on April 11, 2007 [4 favorites]


*
posted by ColdChef at 8:19 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


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posted by Bookhouse at 8:19 PM on April 11, 2007


We had a memorial service for Isaac [Asimov] a few years back, and I spoke and said at one point, 'Isaac is up in heaven now.' It was the funniest thing I could have said to an audience of humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored. And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, 'Kurt is up in heaven now.' That's my favorite joke.

Kurt is up in heaven now. Oh man.
posted by eunoia at 8:19 PM on April 11, 2007 [31 favorites]


Thanks for everything Kurt! See you on Tralfamadore.
posted by wfrgms at 8:19 PM on April 11, 2007


Hi Ho

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Kurt is one of my favorite authors. Thanks for all the words.
posted by Eekacat at 8:19 PM on April 11, 2007


Thanks for opening hidden doors in high school.

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posted by Burhanistan at 8:19 PM on April 11, 2007 [5 favorites]


٭
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:20 PM on April 11, 2007


Wow.

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posted by Verdandi at 8:20 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by saraswati at 8:20 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by evilcolonel at 8:21 PM on April 11, 2007


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I really hope there's no turkey farm.
posted by gnomeloaf at 8:21 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:21 PM on April 11, 2007


So it goes.

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posted by teferi at 8:21 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


So it goes.
posted by lekvar at 8:22 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


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He's bumming out angels, now.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:23 PM on April 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


I like to think he's touching feet with Bokonon and all those who knew Heaven was a lie.
posted by landedjentry at 8:24 PM on April 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


Kurt Vonnegut has come unstuck in time.

A great writer, and a great man.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:24 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by ericb at 8:24 PM on April 11, 2007


arg no! the world is a darker place without him.

gads, i think i'm going to have to keep pretending he's still alive, like i do with george harrison. otherwise my heart will just break.
posted by eatdonuts at 8:24 PM on April 11, 2007 [3 favorites]


A truly unique person. He will be sorely missed.
So it goes.

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posted by cows of industry at 8:25 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by spacewrench at 8:25 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by LobsterMitten at 8:26 PM on April 11, 2007


Welcome to the Monkey House.

. . . . .

God Bless you, Kurt. I adored your books.
posted by WaterSprite at 8:26 PM on April 11, 2007


*
posted by imposster at 8:27 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by contraption at 8:28 PM on April 11, 2007


There aren't enough . in the world.

God bless, Kurt. Thanks for everything.

Goddammit.
posted by jokeefe at 8:29 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ting-a-ling!
posted by po at 8:29 PM on April 11, 2007 [4 favorites]


84 is not a bad age to die.

I only read Slaughterhouse 5 in highschool. Very popular to have on your reading list because it's so thin.
I'm not sure wether he was the first who reversed time in a story. That was a great invention. The effect on the morality of the story was intrigueing.

If I read 1 other work by him, what should it be?
posted by jouke at 8:30 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


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posted by ssmith at 8:30 PM on April 11, 2007


I always thought that Geraldo Rivera married Kurt Vonnegut's daughter to make himself look good. That man has no shame.
posted by Penny Wise at 8:30 PM on April 11, 2007


Yes, and so it goes.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:30 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by Soliloquy at 8:31 PM on April 11, 2007


'Please--a little less love, and a little more common decency.'

Ho Hum.
posted by Grimgrin at 8:31 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by piratebowling at 8:32 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


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posted by MrBadExample at 8:33 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:33 PM on April 11, 2007


“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ ”
posted by ELF Radio at 8:33 PM on April 11, 2007 [10 favorites]


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posted by debgpi at 8:33 PM on April 11, 2007


And so he's gone.

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posted by wendell at 8:34 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by isopraxis at 8:35 PM on April 11, 2007


If I read 1 other work by him, what should it be?

"Cat's Cradle"
posted by Burhanistan at 8:35 PM on April 11, 2007


*
posted by sciatica at 8:35 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'll have to mention is cameo in "Back to School". Its what makes guys like him even cooler. Can you imagine someone like Franzen ever doing that? At any rate, .
posted by narebuc at 8:35 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by Samuel Farrow at 8:35 PM on April 11, 2007


If I read 1 other work by him, what should it be?

I really liked Player Piano - but (I think) it's very early and fairly different from his usual stuff. It's all pretty fun though. I'm trying to see his life as rich and fulfilled but it's hard to not be a little bummed.
posted by freebird at 8:36 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by gergtreble at 8:36 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by inoculatedcities at 8:36 PM on April 11, 2007


If I read 1 other work by him, what should it be?

Cat's Cradle or Slapstick.
posted by docpops at 8:36 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by bashos_frog at 8:37 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by pombe at 8:37 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by telstar at 8:37 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by gaspode at 8:38 PM on April 11, 2007


EVERYTHING WAS BEAUTIFUL
AND NOTHING HURT


So it goes.

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posted by buriednexttoyou at 8:39 PM on April 11, 2007 [5 favorites]


So it goes.

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posted by trip and a half at 8:39 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 8:39 PM on April 11, 2007


Busy, busy, busy



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posted by exlotuseater at 8:40 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by Tullius at 8:40 PM on April 11, 2007


Thank god he's in heavy now, the magnificent bastard!
posted by es_de_bah at 8:41 PM on April 11, 2007


If I read 1 other work by him, what should it be?

Hocus Pocus. Or Mother Night. Or....

...really, it's all good.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:41 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by !Jim at 8:43 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by notsnot at 8:43 PM on April 11, 2007


I've only read Slaughterhouse-5 and a handful of his essays, but for some reason this news makes me want to weep. A genuinely awesome human being gone.
posted by papakwanz at 8:44 PM on April 11, 2007




"Make me young! Make me young!"

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posted by borborygmi at 8:45 PM on April 11, 2007


Reading only one Vonnegut novel would be like only listening to one Beatles album. They were pretty much all masterpieces.
posted by GavinR at 8:45 PM on April 11, 2007


I'm a little too young to really know much about him, but I did enjoy the shows he did on New York's WBAI about a year or so ago. So . . .

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posted by CommonSense at 8:47 PM on April 11, 2007


I gave my . earlier, but it is nowhere near enough, and as jokeefe says, there's not enough . in the world for him. I'm not one to lament the passing of someone who has entertained, educated, inspired, or amused us, but Kurt is different. His writing seemed so personal to me. The horrible things that would happen to his characters, and still I had to laugh. I guess I hope there's a barn someplace like in Bluebeard with a last work as a gift to the world.

Shine on you crazy diamond.
posted by Eekacat at 8:47 PM on April 11, 2007


bloody hell, I've been kind of waiting for this to happen for a few years now. Some stuff he's written suggested he was damn tired.
Still and all it's a major blow. I'd say out of all the "celebrity deaths" in the past decade this is the one that hurts the most. Wish I didn't have to work tomorrow, but definitely will have to have a wake this weekend, I think I'ma going to have to do the schlocky thing and turn my blog black for a day or two.

See that cat, see the cradle?


.....
posted by edgeways at 8:47 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by YoBananaBoy at 8:48 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by bigschmoove at 8:49 PM on April 11, 2007


I think it was from reading Cat's Cradle, when I was 13 or 14, that I first really understood that there was such a thing as a prose style.
posted by escabeche at 8:49 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


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posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:49 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by solid-one-love at 8:49 PM on April 11, 2007


God bless you, Mr. Vonnegut.
posted by roll truck roll at 8:51 PM on April 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


* is clearly the correct punctuation in this thread, not the lowly period.

It looks like a bit like an anus, you see...

I don't know what else to say. ":(" isn't enough.
posted by sparkletone at 8:51 PM on April 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


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posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 8:51 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by Tacodog at 8:51 PM on April 11, 2007


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So it goes. But somehow, I always wish it wouldn't.
posted by Paragon at 8:51 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by hifiparasol at 8:51 PM on April 11, 2007


Man. The Sirens of Titan always makes me cry. I didn't even have to read it this time.
posted by maxwelton at 8:54 PM on April 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


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posted by Burton at 8:55 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by hellbient at 8:56 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by killy willy at 8:56 PM on April 11, 2007


I don't have the book here, but isn't there a part in Timequake where he says that he hopes that, at his funeral, some smartass will stand up and say, "Kurt's up in heaven now"?
posted by roll truck roll at 8:56 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by Falconetti at 8:58 PM on April 11, 2007


I don't have the book here, but isn't there a part in Timequake where he says that he hopes that, at his funeral, some smartass will stand up and say, "Kurt's up in heaven now"?

Uh...
posted by sparkletone at 8:58 PM on April 11, 2007


I remember reading a bunch of his books as paperbacks stored in some cupboard at home on my dad's recommendation when I was like 10 or 11. Never read anything sense, but they had a big impact on me then. Sad.
posted by R343L at 8:59 PM on April 11, 2007


Joe Heller  

True story, Word of Honor: 
Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer 
now dead, 
and I were at a party given by a billionaire 
on Shelter Island.

I said, "Joe, how does it make you feel 
to know that our host only yesterday 
may have made more money 
than your novel 'Catch-22' 
has earned in its entire history?" 
And Joe said, "I've got something he can never have." 
And I said, "What on earth could that be, Joe?" 
And Joe said, "The knowledge that I've got enough." 
Not bad! Rest in peace!"

--Kurt Vonnegut

The New Yorker, May 16th, 2005

posted by gwint at 9:00 PM on April 11, 2007 [6 favorites]


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posted by idb at 9:00 PM on April 11, 2007


we'll miss you kurt. thanks for all the fun times.

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posted by Menomena at 9:01 PM on April 11, 2007


Breakfast of Champions was one of the first "adult" books I read, slipping it off my parents' bookshelf when they weren't paying attention.

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posted by found dog one eye at 9:01 PM on April 11, 2007


*

(inscribed on a tablet, delivered by flying saucer)
posted by Artw at 9:02 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by Colloquial Collision at 9:02 PM on April 11, 2007


*
So it goes.
posted by nasreddin at 9:04 PM on April 11, 2007


shit.
posted by thethirdman at 9:04 PM on April 11, 2007


*


I loved him.
posted by Failure31 at 9:05 PM on April 11, 2007


One of the greatest men who ever lived. My first thought was what a blessing that he put pen to paper so we will always have his words to remind us that we are frustrated imperfect machines. I always felt that as long as Kurt was around that there was goodness somewhere in the world. The people I think that about are dropping too quickly and there doesn't seem to be anyone out there replacing them.

My favorite line of his:

"Free enterprise is much too hard on the old and the sick and the shy and the poor and the stupid, and on the people nobody likes." -Address to a graduating class at Bennington College in 1970.
posted by any major dude at 9:05 PM on April 11, 2007 [3 favorites]


Read his books, even saw him speak once. He was great.
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posted by tiger yang at 9:05 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by FunkyHelix at 9:05 PM on April 11, 2007


God bless you, Mr. Vonnegut.

Truly all that needs to be said. He’s up in heaven now, indeed, but his words and his spirit will remain down here with the rest of us for a long, long time.
posted by LeLiLo at 9:06 PM on April 11, 2007


I only knew him through the books he wrote, and I can still read them, and remember him. Who needs heaven when you have readers who remember you?

I think I'll commemorate his death by giving one of his books to someone who's never read any.

Kurt Vonnegut did some good.
posted by breezeway at 9:07 PM on April 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


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posted by JT at 9:07 PM on April 11, 2007


Life is no way to treat an animal.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:07 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by k8t at 9:08 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by Staggering Jack at 9:08 PM on April 11, 2007


Sorry.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:08 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by Hadroed at 9:09 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by cerebus19 at 9:09 PM on April 11, 2007


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this is so very sad. bye monkey, bye.
posted by carmina at 9:09 PM on April 11, 2007


I already heard about this several years from now.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 9:10 PM on April 11, 2007 [12 favorites]


</
posted by humannaire at 9:11 PM on April 11, 2007


Rest well, Mr Trout.

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posted by knave at 9:11 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by bread-eater at 9:12 PM on April 11, 2007


This is the first time I have ever entered my password and seen a row of tiny little assholes.

My plans to sleep well tonight, undone. Even sadder now.

. and *
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 9:12 PM on April 11, 2007


I am of course notoriously hooked on cigarettes. I keep hoping the things will kill me. A fire at one end and a fool at the other.

*
posted by Kwantsar at 9:13 PM on April 11, 2007


*

So it goes.
posted by gurple at 9:13 PM on April 11, 2007


Son of a bitch.

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posted by milquetoast at 9:14 PM on April 11, 2007


ouch
posted by muckster at 9:17 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by honest knave at 9:17 PM on April 11, 2007


Whenever I am asked who my favorite author is, I have had a stock reply for years.

It is, "You mean, besides Vonnegut?"

Kurt Vonnegut, I loved you. You broke my heart. First with Blackbeard, then today, by dying.

Honestly, this could not have happened to a better person.
posted by humannaire at 9:18 PM on April 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


I am actually tearing up here. His voice was just so vital, so hugely important in helping me see the world back when I was 12 and 13 and devouring his books. The comfort of them in their declaration of the senselessness of ideology, the absurdity of life and the abuses of power; their profound humanism and compassion for us, we weak and silly beings.

In Sirens of Titan, Unk finds the letter that he wrote to himself before his memory was wiped. The letter, Vonnegut wrote, functioned as literature in the best sense because it made him "secretly free". That's what his books did for me, too.

Rest in peace, Mr. Vonnegut. I loved you, I honestly did.

No goddamn cat, and no goddamn cradle.
posted by jokeefe at 9:18 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


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posted by humannaire at 9:18 PM on April 11, 2007


No! No no no no no no!
posted by serazin at 9:19 PM on April 11, 2007


Metafilter: A fire at one end and a fool at the other.
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:19 PM on April 11, 2007


Where is home? I've wondered where home is, and I realized, it's not Mars or someplace like that, it's Indianapolis when I was nine years old. I had a brother and a sister, a cat and a dog, and a mother and a father and uncles and aunts. And there's no way I can get there again.


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posted by fair_game at 9:19 PM on April 11, 2007 [6 favorites]


*
posted by avoision at 9:20 PM on April 11, 2007


MetaFilter: A row of tiny little assholes.
posted by knave at 9:20 PM on April 11, 2007 [3 favorites]


.

incredibly sad.
posted by gcbv at 9:21 PM on April 11, 2007


Everytime I've seen his name mentioned in an FPP over the years, my heart has skipped a beat.

I hope his clear eyed and deadly funny humanism lives on. We need it more than ever.

This one hurts...



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posted by Skygazer at 9:21 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by pompomtom at 9:21 PM on April 11, 2007


"A fire at one end and a fool at the other."

Reading his books made me feel this way.
posted by Wonderwoman at 9:23 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


*
posted by Ostara at 9:24 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by The God Complex at 9:26 PM on April 11, 2007


I'm crying.
posted by rbs at 9:26 PM on April 11, 2007


He's up in heaven now.
posted by The White Hat at 9:27 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by Pastabagel at 9:27 PM on April 11, 2007


To quote Jon Stewart, "As an adolescent, he made my life bearable."
posted by Afroblanco at 9:29 PM on April 11, 2007 [3 favorites]




Here are the last rites from the Book of Bokonon:

The Last Rites of the Bokononism [ 99 ]
(Each line is said once by the person giving the rites and then repeated by the dying person.)

God made mud.
God got lonesome.
So God said to some of the mud, "Sit up!"
"See all I've made," said God, "the hills, the sea, the sky, the stars."
And I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
Lucky me, lucky mud.
I, mud, sat up and saw what a nice job God had done.
Nice going, God.
Nobody but you could have done it, God! I certainly couldn't have.
I feel very unimportant compared to You.
The only way I can feel the least bit important is to think of all the mud that didn't even get to sit up and look around.
I got so much, and most mud got so little.
Thank you for the honor!
Now mud lies down again and goes to sleep.
What memories for mud to have!
What interesting other kinds of sitting-up mud I met!
I loved everything I saw!
Good night.
I will go to heaven now.
I can hardly wait...
To find out for certain what my wampeter was...
And who was in my karass...
And all the good things our karass did for you.
Amen.
posted by vacapinta at 9:29 PM on April 11, 2007 [24 favorites]


Apologies for previous (not the sentiment, but being unable to control posting the reply). Feeling a little emotional here.
posted by jokeefe at 9:29 PM on April 11, 2007


Damn.

*********!!
posted by Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson at 9:31 PM on April 11, 2007


Damn it, vacapinta, now I'm not just tearing up, I'm actually crying. I'm going to go and walk away from the computer.

Lucky me, lucky mud!
posted by jokeefe at 9:31 PM on April 11, 2007


Player Piano was brought up recently in the question Essays for Engineers. It changed my life, and ruined my career.

Thank you, Mr. Vonnegut.
posted by Chuckles at 9:33 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by shoepal at 9:33 PM on April 11, 2007


I envy those that are sleeping now, they have a few more hours of unawareness.
posted by edgeways at 9:33 PM on April 11, 2007


Ah geeeeez, I never got Vonnegut then. But I sure get the loss in his honor felt by the mefites now.

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posted by Penny Wise at 9:34 PM on April 11, 2007


_
|
/
*
Reading God Bless You Mr. Rosewater I became self aware. I read it by candlelight, in a loft, in a cabin, on a lake, in Maine, fighting off bats. The bats ate the mosquitos.

So it goes.
posted by dchase at 9:34 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by jodrell banksmeadow at 9:35 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by Joey Michaels at 9:35 PM on April 11, 2007


yeah........

late to the thread here I guess

what afroblanco said

the guy made insanity sane for me......and changed forvever the way I looked at the world.

I was able to make sense of the world by deciphering the nonsense he made of it.

and while I look back at what I just typed and think it is is weird...the word that keeps echoing in my head iis this

tralfamadore
posted by timsteil at 9:36 PM on April 11, 2007


*
posted by Foaf at 9:36 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by Bromius at 9:39 PM on April 11, 2007


I see the Last Rites have been posted, so, the Fourteenth Calypso for you, Mister Vonnegut:

"When I was young
I was so gay and mean
And I drank and chased the girls
Just like young St. Augustine.
Saint Augustine.
He got to be a saint.
So, if I get to be one, also,
Please, Mama, don't you faint."

here's hoping, huh?

.
posted by theoddball at 9:39 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Poo-tee-weet?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:39 PM on April 11, 2007


I am so sad although I'm sure we all knew it would be soon having seen him in the last few years. The last interview I saw with him, he seemed very sick but was still able to take the piss out of everyone. I will miss him very much.

I know the way here is to post a little dot, but for me a little dot is not enough to say goodbye to a great man. I don't know a lot of people would mourn for him in the town that I am in right now so I am happy to be a part of Metafilter, a place to say these things. I feel like a dork to be so sad about a person I don't know, but I really am.

So, goodbye great man, you meant so much to me and so much to so many others. Thank you for helping me to be a better thinker.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 9:39 PM on April 11, 2007 [2 favorites]




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posted by mds35 at 9:39 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by scody at 9:39 PM on April 11, 2007


I loved his books - they were insightful, funny, honest, and original. What a loss for us, but I hope he's finally at peace. From reading one of his recent interviews (can't find the link now), it sounded like life had become burdensome for him. Rest in peace, Kurt.

*
posted by mosk at 9:39 PM on April 11, 2007


davidmsc - I think you may just have been added to that list of people who will not be missed.
posted by Artw at 9:40 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by ruby.aftermath at 9:40 PM on April 11, 2007


Hey my buddy Cliff the Key West Weaver just said the coolest thing!

He said, "They'll be another!"
posted by humannaire at 9:41 PM on April 11, 2007


davidmsc, I'm not sure your sentiment is entirely appreciated, I think you are wrong on many counts and it is pretty turdtastic of you to use such harsh words in the middle of this tread, no class man, and obviously trying to pick a fight. So please take it to MeTa if you have further protestations
posted by edgeways at 9:41 PM on April 11, 2007


If you want to see what this fuss is about, read "Mother Night". It's good start.

Thanks for the memories KV.
posted by MotorNeuron at 9:41 PM on April 11, 2007


Godspeed, Kurt. The light of English literature is perceptibly dimer today.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 9:42 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by davelog at 9:45 PM on April 11, 2007


what a voice he had.
what a mind.
*
posted by dan g. at 9:47 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by lester at 9:48 PM on April 11, 2007


What can be said?

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posted by BackwardsCity at 9:48 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by tomharpel at 9:49 PM on April 11, 2007


It's not very cool to confess that you actually enjoy using this site, or that it has some meaning or value, or even that you like it. Instead there is an odd valuing of criticism and snark and complaints over positive expression - but I'll just come out and say that this post made me realize that I love it here on metafilter and this is why:

After I read this post, and felt so sad, and remembered what sofa I was draped over reading Galapagos and picturing my literally held-together-with-tape-and-a-rubber-band copy of Cats Cradle and remembering finishing Welcome to the Monkey House and thinking "Huh, that was kinda weak" etc etc etc, I called my mom. I don't usually call my mom when I'm emotional, but I guess being transported to my adolescence inspired it. And I told her that Kurt Vonnegut had just died and she basically said, "Huh, that's kind of … interesting." And I hung up right away feeling really much sadder. And then I realized that I didn't know who to call who would feel just like I did. And then I realized that although I often feel like I don't fit in here, or like I'm not the same as folks here, I can see evidence right here in this post that a whole hellofalot of yawl shared at least this with me. I know Kurt Vonnegut is, well, pretty mainstream, and I don't have to look farther than, well, the New York Times to find glowing and gushing testimonials to his work and his life, and while I also know that probably a lot of folks might be annoyed by my feminist critiques of Mr. Vonnegut and probably, a bunch of you hated Bluebeard which was actually my favorite, given all of that, I feel a certain comrade with yawl right now, and I feel, well, grateful to have you guys here, all of us shocked and sad to see Kurt Vonnegut go.

So although I know it's frowned upon here, let me just say, I really feel grateful for metafilter right now.

And of course, for Kurt Vonnegut too.
posted by serazin at 9:50 PM on April 11, 2007 [12 favorites]


*
posted by sacre_bleu at 9:51 PM on April 11, 2007


On second thought, Belle O'Cosity said it already, and, in Vonnegut's style, with more brevity.

(Also, Breakfast of Champions might be tied for my favorite).
posted by serazin at 9:53 PM on April 11, 2007


So it goes.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:54 PM on April 11, 2007


I just walked in the house, and my husband told me the news. I was just floored, but then I decided I shouldn't be too sad, because it was pretty obvious in the last few years that KV was tired of living. In any case, if I could be any literary character ever, I would want to be Bokonon. Busy, busy, busy...

I'm sitting underneath one of his screenprints right now. He put an asterisk after his signature.

So it goes.

*
posted by Ruki at 9:54 PM on April 11, 2007


davidmsc: you should try reading Vonnegut again. You might "get it" if you continue trying.
posted by exlotuseater at 9:56 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by afx114 at 9:57 PM on April 11, 2007


*
posted by rockabilly_pete at 9:57 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by Wizzle at 9:57 PM on April 11, 2007


rockabilly_pete: Aha!
posted by Wizzle at 9:58 PM on April 11, 2007


*
posted by billder at 9:58 PM on April 11, 2007


Another true hero has left the planet. Fly, Kurt, as high as you took us all these years.

We love you.

*
posted by dbiedny at 9:59 PM on April 11, 2007


Nearly every time I brush my teeth I think about my sister (and I don't even have a sister) and how we'd decided that brushing our teeth with hot water was better than using cold.

Shit. Goddamn.

And I think about swallowing Drano, and how godawful that must be a way to die.

And semicolons, and how I try to eliminate them because Kurt said they're useless, and I think he's right.
posted by bigbigdog at 10:00 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:00 PM on April 11, 2007


I learned about the last shuttle explosion on metafilter, and now this. I am sad and will miss his writing, although I hope to never be as pessimistic as he was.
posted by craniac at 10:00 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by jdfalk at 10:00 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 10:01 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by brujita at 10:02 PM on April 11, 2007


Actually, I think davidmsc is right in a lot of ways.

Kurt Vonnegut *was* an idiot.

You'd have to be to tell the truth. Sometimes there exists a person who is unafraid to look life if in the eye and accept it for what it is. Has this world ever rewarded these people with anything but sadness and a sense of isolation?

It's the sweet little lies about this world and our lives in it that make living bearable for so many of us, you'd have to be an idiot to give up that comfort, even if you never spoke about it to another soul. You'd have to be an even bigger idiot to open your mouth and speak the truth, or in his case sing it out for all to hear, when everything history has ever taught us is that people will only despise you for it.

He wasn't a particularly happy man, his vision didn't seem to bring him comfort, he struggled with suicide his whole life, and perhaps he could have dulled that pain with some comforting illusions. But he was an idiot, and chose the harder path, and made the world an indelibly better place because he lived here, and chose to live in his manner.

Which is far more then could be said for the gentlemen you used in your examples.
posted by Jezztek at 10:03 PM on April 11, 2007 [36 favorites]


Time to go do some (re)reading.

Thanks, Kurt.

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posted by rtha at 10:04 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by arialblack at 10:05 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by mrbill at 10:06 PM on April 11, 2007


Goodbye to one of the few writers who made me blink and say "You can't write like that!", and be happy for it.

Perhaps to take the edge off the mourning, or to increase it (whatever burns it off (or burns it in)), here's some advice on style, from the man.
posted by eurasian at 10:07 PM on April 11, 2007


Metafilter: So many different people in the same device
posted by grobstein at 10:07 PM on April 11, 2007


So it goes.

Rest in peace, Kurt, you wonderful, crazy, beautiful human being.




Poo-tee-weet?
posted by darkstar at 10:08 PM on April 11, 2007


My favourites were Deadeye Dick and Mother Night.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:09 PM on April 11, 2007


I remember when I was first getting into the Grateful Dead, and like any music dork, reading lyrics and the details of album liner notes. At the time I was wondering what was up with Ice Nine Publishing; their publishing company.

I didn't know what the fuck Ice Nine meant, I assumed it was some weird cryptic hippie joke from back before all the commercials took over. I guess that assumption was correct in some regards.

A couple years later I found out what Ice Nine was and it blew my mind.

Fucking A...

Thank you Mr. Vonnegut.
posted by bluevelvetelvis at 10:10 PM on April 11, 2007




One of my favorites.

*
posted by Quartermass at 10:10 PM on April 11, 2007


Oh crap. He was a beautifully misanthropic humanist. 20th century feels a whole lot more distant.

Twain went out with a comet. I wonder what's taking Kurt home.

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posted by aliendolphin at 10:13 PM on April 11, 2007


So it goes.

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posted by Curry at 10:13 PM on April 11, 2007


It's all good - great, in fact - but I'd suggest the uninitiated start what should be a delightful and enlightening dance through the whole catalogue with Mother Night.

It goes, to begin with, like this:

This is the only story of mine whose moral I know. I don't think it's a marvelous moral; I simply happen to know what it is: We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.

It's a book about Nazis. And war. And Truth. And so it goes.

*
posted by gompa at 10:15 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by RakDaddy at 10:16 PM on April 11, 2007


It makes me sad that he'd so smartly figured out some of the big problems some time ago, and that he had to spend his last years watching us let those problems get worse, instead of making them better. As cynical as he could be with regard to human nature, I can't help feeling that we all still managed to disappoint him.

I hope he holds off heading into the blue tunnel for a few years, and has a chance to watch us move things in the right direction again. Assuming we can.
posted by washburn at 10:17 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by ebee at 10:18 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:18 PM on April 11, 2007




.

My roommate & I were just talking about "Make me young again!" How weird.
posted by lilac girl at 10:22 PM on April 11, 2007


well, this is just terrible.

it's been a year or two since i've read one of his books.

but i don't think anything anyone else has written has ever touched me the way his stories did.

i know it's an artificial closeness that we feel for artists whose work resonates with us. i remember when my mother came home crying because john lennon had been shot and i was too young to understand why. but i guess i now understand.
posted by luriete at 10:23 PM on April 11, 2007


oh god, no. i don't think i can handle this. fucking god no.
posted by shmegegge at 10:24 PM on April 11, 2007


he was a great guy. will sorely be missed.

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posted by jba at 10:24 PM on April 11, 2007


Rented a tent a tent a tent.

I think I'll commemorate his death by giving one of his books to someone who's never read any.

Indeed.

.

.

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posted by alms at 10:25 PM on April 11, 2007


Damn. Now we'll never get to be best friends.

*
posted by granted at 10:26 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by hap_hazard at 10:28 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by sputgop at 10:30 PM on April 11, 2007


I read Welcome to the Monkey House when I was about 17, and it was my all time favorite book of short stories at the time. I haven't re-read it in 20 years, as I don't want to spoil that magic.

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posted by bowline at 10:31 PM on April 11, 2007


I guess landedjentry just truthed me.

A callipso:

Mr. Vonnegut died, in the spring time.
The MeFites all are very sad.
His time had come, he had to go,
But The Author lives on, in printed form.

.
posted by Goofyy at 10:32 PM on April 11, 2007


.

The world is a bit darker today. Or maybe a bit lighter. Whichever.. it's different. In a bad way.
posted by Deepspace at 10:32 PM on April 11, 2007


Oh god, no.

I'm late to the thread(I headed straight here when I heard the news. This is a good place, and a kind place.), so I just read through all 200+ comments, and I am so not ready to face this day.

Goddammit, so it goes.. :'(
posted by stumbling at 10:33 PM on April 11, 2007


Dammit, dammit, dammit.

I know he hadn't been the same in recent years, and I'm sure he was ready for the end. It's a damn shame to see the battered shell of a man in the light of what he once was and never could be again.

But to me he was a hero. Even though he wasn't what he was at his prime, what's left of him was still smarter, wittier, and yes, more of a patriot than most men ever dare to dream of being. Ever since the day I first finished reading one of his novels, I wanted to meet him. Who knows what I ever would have said to him, or him to me. I suppose I was hoping for something like a papal blessing, as a member of the Church of the Written Word.

God Bless you, Mr. Vonnegut. Our greatest living author is no longer, though the world is far better for having him. There is no higher praise to give a man. May his words keep him immortal. So it goes.

.
posted by kyleg at 10:33 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dang. Why do things like this have to happen to people when we need them the most?

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posted by cpualani at 10:36 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by runningdogofcapitalism at 10:36 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by mikw at 10:37 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by derivative algorithm at 10:40 PM on April 11, 2007


*
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posted by merelyglib at 10:41 PM on April 11, 2007


*

Such an interesting peephole, it is sad to see it shut.

So it goes.
posted by Bokononist at 10:41 PM on April 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


*
posted by ottereroticist at 10:43 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by bkudria at 10:44 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by Foosnark at 10:44 PM on April 11, 2007


My sadness is definitely lessened by coming here and finding all these people who feel the same way as me. Sirens of Titan is my favorite, and I re-read it every few months. One of the few authors who can make me laugh at loud regularly. Dang.

.
posted by ORthey at 10:45 PM on April 11, 2007


His books are the only books I've ever re-read just for the hell of it. All I want to do now is call in sick tomorrow so I can read KV all day.

*
posted by prosthezis at 10:45 PM on April 11, 2007


Laugh out loud, also.
posted by ORthey at 10:45 PM on April 11, 2007


Oh, and another thing:

Goddammit, davidmsc, you've got to be kind.
posted by ORthey at 10:49 PM on April 11, 2007


Life. I'm really starting to hate it.
posted by luckypozzo at 10:49 PM on April 11, 2007


I only just recently started reading his books, and realized I should have been doing so all my life. Fortunately, he left behind a lot of really great books, and I suppose if I'd already read them, I wouldn't have the pleasure of reading them the first time.
posted by Durhey at 10:52 PM on April 11, 2007


Fuck, man. Fuck.

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posted by the_bone at 10:52 PM on April 11, 2007


Ah, hell.

*
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:53 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by Mil at 10:55 PM on April 11, 2007


.

sad day for words of all sorts
posted by Jeremy at 11:00 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by scheptech at 11:03 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by mr_roboto at 11:04 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by Mister Bijou at 11:07 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by jewzilla at 11:10 PM on April 11, 2007


I think he was ready to go.
Thanks for everything.
good job.

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posted by pointilist at 11:14 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've worried some about why write books when Presidents and Senators and generals do not read them, and the university experience taught me a very good reason: you catch people before they become generals and Senators and Presidents, and you poison their minds with humanity. Encourage them to make a better world.

from Conversations with Kurt Vonnegut, 1988
posted by the_bone at 11:16 PM on April 11, 2007 [6 favorites]


*

There was a particularly interesting interview he gave in Stop Smiling a few months ago. Unfortunately, only an excerpt is available online. Worth reading if you can find it.
posted by timelord at 11:18 PM on April 11, 2007


And I just finished re-reading Slaughterhouse Five this past weekend.
posted by salvia at 11:20 PM on April 11, 2007


*
posted by peacay at 11:20 PM on April 11, 2007


Thank you, kv, for many fine words and fine books.
posted by Lynsey at 11:20 PM on April 11, 2007


NOT EVEN
THE CREATOR
OF THE UNIVERSE
KNEW WHAT
THE MAN
WAS GOING TO SAY NEXT.
~*~
PERHAPS THE MAN
WAS A BETTER UNIVERSE
IN ITS INFANCY

R.I.P.

Kurt Vonnegut
1922-2007
He Tried.
posted by ottereroticist at 11:21 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


God damn it, Mr. Vonnegut... how could you leave us, just when we needed you the most?

So much work yet to do, and us with no compass.

.
.
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posted by herichon at 11:21 PM on April 11, 2007


I've only read a handful of his books (Cats Cradle, Welcome to the Monkey House, and Bagombo Snuff Box), and I'm reacting worse than when Douglas Adams died.

.
posted by SansPoint at 11:22 PM on April 11, 2007


when the vast majority of people here on mefi would openly CHEER blah blah blah

You really showed 'em, tiger.
posted by maxwelton at 11:28 PM on April 11, 2007


When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in a bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug...
posted by salvia at 11:29 PM on April 11, 2007


ah, this is sad.
.
posted by MadamM at 11:31 PM on April 11, 2007


*
posted by chillmost at 11:31 PM on April 11, 2007


I'd post the Last Rites, but it's been done.

This really hurts. Goodnght, lucky mud.
posted by Fenriss at 11:34 PM on April 11, 2007


I hope someone has had the good sense to cut his head off and freeze it so it can be revived in a bubbling backlighted vat and launched into space as the soul of an earth-monitoring space station. But then the head is stolen, stolen again, forgotten in a utility closet, found, restolen, chased around space and Earth a little, and eventually crashed-landed on a small island off Tasmania, lost in the bush, and eaten by the last of the Tasmanian devils, now starving thanks to a manmade blight, but who manage to carry on the Tasmanian devil species thanks to eating Vonnegut's head. And there's a plague and all humans die and the Tasmanian devil evolves into the dominant species on Earth, a gentle marsupial folk with wide friendly grins between their long whiskers. And they find the gnawed skull with some evidence indicating its significance and they revere it as The Last Morsel.
posted by pracowity at 11:34 PM on April 11, 2007 [12 favorites]


Goodbye Mr. Vonnegut. Your works kept me thinking and imaging the world.
posted by phyrewerx at 11:36 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by MythMaker at 11:36 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by Mijo Bijo at 11:39 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by ScotchLynx at 11:39 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by JHarris at 11:40 PM on April 11, 2007


*

and so on...
posted by sourwookie at 11:40 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by By The Grace of God at 11:45 PM on April 11, 2007


Makes me sad, but he was an old, old man who had wanted to die for a good long time, and that's just fine.

Goodbye, Mr. Vonnegut. You helped me a lot.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:49 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by Kiell at 11:50 PM on April 11, 2007


Vila i frid.
posted by mr.marx at 11:53 PM on April 11, 2007


*
posted by retronic at 11:56 PM on April 11, 2007


And let us not forget his bravura performance...as himself in Back to School.

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posted by zardoz at 11:57 PM on April 11, 2007


.

So it goes, as so many have said in this thread already.
posted by wanderingmind at 11:58 PM on April 11, 2007


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posted by Kudos at 12:01 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by voltairemodern at 12:05 AM on April 12, 2007


good riddance to a pathetic wretch.

Funny, he'd probably mod that up were he alive.
posted by kid ichorous at 12:06 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


When I read Vonnegut's work, it makes me want to run out and save the world.

This one's really hard. As Stavros mentions, he's been ready to die for a while (clearly evident when one reads A Man Without A Country), and he's stated several times that he wasn't writing anymore, so we needn't wonder about "what might have been." None of this makes his death hurt any less.

My favorite author, and damn near my favorite person ever.
posted by the_bone at 12:07 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh. Oh man. Oh man. This makes me tear up. Oh God.
Listen. All great literature is about what a bummer it is to be a human being [...]
But I have to say this in defense of humankind: No matter in what era in history, including the Garden of Eden, everybody just got there. And, except for the Garden of Eden, there were already all these crazy games going on, which could make you act crazy, even if you weren’t crazy to begin with.
"On other days we have wars as horrible as any you've ever seen or read about. There isn't anything we can do about them, so we simply don't look at them. We ignore them. We spend eternity looking at pleasant moments--like today at the zoo. Isn't this a nice moment?"

"Yes."

"That's one thing Earthlings might learn to do, if they tried hard enough: Ignore the awful times, and concentrate on the good ones."

"Um," said Billy Pilgrim.
posted by Firas at 12:11 AM on April 12, 2007


And, of course, if anyone ever deserved it, it is he:

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posted by Firas at 12:11 AM on April 12, 2007


So it goes.

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posted by greasepig at 12:13 AM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 12:14 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by Elmore at 12:21 AM on April 12, 2007


goodnight sir, and thank you
posted by matteo at 12:22 AM on April 12, 2007


*
so it goes...
posted by schyler523 at 12:24 AM on April 12, 2007


bluevelvetelvis - "I remember when I was first getting into the Grateful Dead"
Here's another tie-in for you, Jerry Garcia had the rights to Sirens of Titan.
posted by tellurian at 12:27 AM on April 12, 2007


Oy.

.

Hey ho.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:29 AM on April 12, 2007




*


Time to get better acquainted with the man's work.
posted by flippant at 12:32 AM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by nightchrome at 12:32 AM on April 12, 2007


. . . wow --> <-- So weird to get a glimpse into the inner workings, to use the term loosely, of a conservative mind. Thanks, davidmsc.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:33 AM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by imperium at 12:40 AM on April 12, 2007


I really wasn't expecting it, caught me off guard.

*
posted by Telf at 12:45 AM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by joeblough at 12:46 AM on April 12, 2007


Towards the end of my first term at Art School (in Newport, in Wales, in 1986) I went to a local jumble sale. As well as finding an oversized suit, there was a stall selling books, in particular a lot of brand-new Kurt Vonnegut books. I don't know what had happened there. Perhaps someone had robbed a book warehouse and donated the proceeds to charity. Anyway, I bought a copy of each separate title - a stack as long as my arm - and took them home.

The following week I contracted flu (which I compounded by continuing to smoke Craven A cigarettes), which gave me the opportunity (and an interesting mindset) to read all the books. Which I did.

He sort of worked his way into people's lives and minds as much as into their libraries.

.
posted by Grangousier at 12:50 AM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by limnrix at 12:52 AM on April 12, 2007


"good riddance to a pathetic wretch"

I hope you were joking.
posted by tehloki at 12:54 AM on April 12, 2007


I hope you were joking.

Given the man in question, he'd probably agree with the description, and go on to make a sardonic joke about it that on later reading reveals an embracingly universal but urgent humanity.
posted by Firas at 1:05 AM on April 12, 2007


A strange thing happened today. I was walking home from a job interview and I started thinking about what would happen when Kurt Vonnegut died. I don't think about Kurt Vonnegut too often anymore, probably because I thought about him so much in the past, but today I was thinking about him and what would happen when he died and, horrendously enough, I briefly considered what would happen on metafilter when he died, and what I would say, what sort of fitting tribute would pour forth from my nimble fingers. In my mind, I decided that when the time came, I would somehow have my parent's copy of Slapstick (which currently lives at their house) on hand, so as to be able to quote the preface to that novel, in which he describes life as a giant slapstick farce and how the noblest trait humankind can aspire to is to be in on the joke, to barter with life in good faith. I swear, I actually thought about this today.

This isn't the strange thing; the strange thing is that he actually did die today and whatever was going to happen on metafilter is happening now, and despite my intention to mark the man's passing with a simple, elegant " . " I just can't let it go at that. I won't even bother explaining what his writing meant to me when I was in high school, because this is a common theme: everybody was touched and changed and maybe hurt a little by Kurt Vonnegut in high school and though it's only a few years later for me, I think I know why. Everything was fucked up then, irremediably, and he was the only author I knew of who seemed to say "Well, yeah, it's fucked up. But what can you do?" And back then, in those fucked up times, that really resonated.

Now, things seem less fucked up, I have more insight into the world, more understanding of my own behaviour, a greater grasp of the behaviour of others, and enough experience to know that things generally get better. But even then, I can't refute that original claim, and even then, I still find myself in the awkward position of half-assedly internetingly eulogizing a man who would have resented even a full-assed eulogy, internet or otherwise. But his shadow stretches far, and I go into things with good faith now, and I'll go into this in good faith too:

This is a man who took out greatest values --- kindness, egalitarianism, justice, empathy --- and knocked them from their lofty idealogical pedestals, reduced them to mere common sense: the great things that make us human were brought down to the level of humanity. In his writing, injustice and evil weren't treated with horror and outrage but with a good-natured sense of bewilderment and amusement. I could call his writing a satire of humanity, and better people have, but it's not the vicious satire of Swift, where humanity is evil and horrific and only thinks itself noble. If his work is satire at all, then it's a wisecrack made by a man who takes mankind's kindness and nobility for granted and is disappointed but unsurprised by our inability to live up to the goals we've set.

And what do you say about a man like that: who was so casual in his noble idealism that describing him as 'a decent man' comes off as high, existential praise? What do you say about a man who literally saw some of the darkest moments of humanity but believed so resolutely in it that he wasn't disgusted or disillusioned but merely confused? What sort of epitaph could possibly befit a man who refused to see his own greatness as anything but ordinary, to the point where he even wrote an epitaph that could stand on the stone of any human being, any time, any where, and stand for everything that humans stand for?

Obviously, you use that same epitaph:

Somebody, Sometime to Sometime: He tried.


And then you top it off with a classy period.

.
posted by Tiresias at 1:07 AM on April 12, 2007 [19 favorites]


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posted by suedehead at 1:14 AM on April 12, 2007


I wish I had something more elegant to say than

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posted by antifuse at 1:19 AM on April 12, 2007


dot
posted by asok at 1:29 AM on April 12, 2007


.
.
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So it goes... He'll be well missed.
posted by vhsiv at 1:30 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by juv3nal at 1:33 AM on April 12, 2007


.

I am very sad, and I'm finding it hard not to be, despite not reading many of his books (I'm going to go and buy a new one right now to fix that). He was a great man, someone that was always relevant, and completely irreplaceable. RIP.
posted by saturnine at 1:40 AM on April 12, 2007


'I know a single word that proves our democratic government is capable of committing obscene, gleefully rabid, racist, yahooistic murder, of unarmed men, women, and children. Murders wholly devoid of military common sense. The word is a foreign word, the word is Nagasaki.'

- Kurt Vonnegut

Rest in peace, sir. You helped me get through this thing, whatever it is.
posted by Optamystic at 1:41 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by homodigitalis at 1:41 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by slimepuppy at 1:42 AM on April 12, 2007


..
posted by SharQ at 1:42 AM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by gravelshoes at 1:52 AM on April 12, 2007


Gosh flippin' darn it to heck...

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posted by Drexen at 2:15 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by ChestnutMonkey at 2:17 AM on April 12, 2007


We toasted accordingly, tonight, at several bars.
posted by redsparkler at 2:17 AM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by about_time at 2:21 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by Windigo at 2:21 AM on April 12, 2007


"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:"
THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
WAS MUSIC
(from A Man Without A Country, 2005)

posted by El Brendano at 2:30 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


*
posted by fixedgear at 2:35 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by damnthesehumanhands at 3:00 AM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by borkencode at 3:07 AM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by TedW at 3:10 AM on April 12, 2007


My political consciousness was born from a frothy mix of Harlan Ellison and you, Kurt Vonnegut.

Twenty-five years on, and you're the one I'm still claiming.

*, you dear, ragged old thing. I'll miss you.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 3:13 AM on April 12, 2007


Just heard about this on CNN (along with the "fact" that among his accomplishments was writing catch-22) really sad to hear it, one of my favorite authors.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:16 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by kisch mokusch at 3:18 AM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by Pendragon at 3:21 AM on April 12, 2007


in no particular order: Cat's Cradle, The Sirens of Titan, Mother Night, Slaughter-House Five...these books helped, these books mattered.

goodnight, dear sir.
posted by I, Credulous at 3:22 AM on April 12, 2007


There's that classic conundrum: The teacher announces a surprise quiz to be held some time in the next month. The clever students try to outsmart the teacher to avoid having to study every night.

The quiz won't be held on the last day of the month, because when there's no quiz by the end of the day before, there's no surprise. By similar reasoning, it won't happen the day before the last day. And since it can't happen that day either, the day before that is ruled out. And so on, backwards through the calendar. The students conclude a surprise quiz is logically impossible, don't bother studying, and are later blindsized by a surprise quiz.

So it was with Kurt Vonnegut. He was older than any family members I have, smoked prodigiously and had pronounced suicidal urges. His death was practically preannounced, but like a too-clever student I concluded that since he would only go when I least expected it, he would live forever. And he schooled me one last time about unreasonable uses of logic.
posted by ardgedee at 3:27 AM on April 12, 2007 [11 favorites]


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posted by sweetwildandmad at 3:30 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by motty at 3:33 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by burr1545 at 3:36 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by Mayor Curley at 3:36 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by Songdog at 3:39 AM on April 12, 2007


23 years ago some friends of mine at The Evergreen State College dragged me up to the University of Puget Sound to see Kurt Vonnegut speak. I didn't really want to go (I had not read any of his work at the time), but they talked me into it. They might even have paid for my ticket.

Of course, his talk was amazing: funny, poignant, and pointed. I've always been glad, since then, that I let my friends talk me into going. It's one of my treasured memories.

.
posted by litlnemo at 3:43 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 3:46 AM on April 12, 2007


What. What a totally horrid way to end an already not great night. I mean, I know he wasn't going to live forever but this really got to me. Bah. I likely would have never been able to meet him anyway, but now that's a bit more certain.
posted by Stunt at 3:53 AM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by painquale at 3:54 AM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by Roommate at 3:55 AM on April 12, 2007


Last night before I went to sleep I was reading the wonderful interview with Vonnegut in The Paris Review Interviews Volume I, and laughing my head off, and trying to work out which of the novels to start re-reading in the morning, then I wake up to this news. So it goes.


In case anyone was wondering, this is the exchange that had me in fits:

Vonnegut: Through careless usage, twerp is a pretty formless insult now.

Interviewer: What is a twerp in the strictest sense, in the original sense?

V: It's a person who inserts a set of false teeth between the cheeks of his ass.

I: I see.

V. I beg your pardon; between the cheeks of his or her ass. I'm always offeding feminists that way.

I: I'm not quite sure why someone would do that with false teeth.

V. In order to bite the buttons off the back seats of taxicabs. That's the only reason twerps do it. It's all that turns them on.

I: You went to Cornell University after Shortridge?

V: I imagine.

posted by jack_mo at 4:00 AM on April 12, 2007 [6 favorites]


Dang. First Ambrose Bierce, now Vonnegut.

Oh, well - he wasn't going to write Beethoven's Ninth Symphony anyway.
posted by Ritchie at 4:05 AM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by trinarian at 4:12 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by toothgnip at 4:22 AM on April 12, 2007


So it goes...
posted by jaronson at 4:30 AM on April 12, 2007


When I was six (1956) we lived in the center of Indianapolis. Our house backed up to an alley. On the other side was a hardware store. Vonnegut's Hardware. I used to cut through Vonnegut's nearly every day to get to the main street where the movie theater was.

When I read "Cat's Cradle" 12 years later, I realized with pleasure that Kurt was part of my karass.
posted by rdone at 4:34 AM on April 12, 2007


.

Aw, man. What a sad way to start the day.
posted by kdar at 4:35 AM on April 12, 2007


I guess he's joined the Ghost Shirt Society.

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posted by Smart Dalek at 4:39 AM on April 12, 2007


I haven't read enough Vonnegut.

I'm sad that there won't be any more.

(It is OK with me that he didn't destroy the entire world on his way out, though. That was kind of him.)
posted by caution live frogs at 4:40 AM on April 12, 2007


.
Hey ho.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:43 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by biffa at 4:46 AM on April 12, 2007


Kurt is up in heaven now.
posted by ND¢ at 4:50 AM on April 12, 2007


I'm looking at my bookshelf and I see Slapstick and Galapagos and Timequake. And I'm remembering that even as far back as Slaughterhouse 5 he was commenting that he was a very old man.

A lot of us read him in high school. For me, high school was twenty-two years ago, but I still read his books occasionally. He wrote with a simplicity of style that was accessible by any teenager, but with a depth that could be appreciated by anyone at all.

And he was almost always right.
posted by Cookiebastard at 4:51 AM on April 12, 2007


I will skip the dot, but will say this - reading Galapagos has changed my worldview in a way few books ever have. Thank you for all the great work, Kurt.

I am certain Vonnegut's books will continue to be viewed as the defining voice late 20th century American literature, long after his many contemporaries fade into obscurity.

On a sidenote, I am doubly sad from reading this thread, for I did not realize Joseph Heller is dead until happening on one of the comments towards the top. Double-bummer.
posted by blindcarboncopy at 4:53 AM on April 12, 2007


Until now I did not realize the efficacy of the mourning dot. It is easy to find on the keyboard when your eyes are tearing up.

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posted by mkhall at 5:02 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by TBoneMcCool at 5:04 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by cotterpin at 5:05 AM on April 12, 2007


This hits me hard. And I'm feeling very touchy. I want the whole damn world to grieve with me. I want every front page of every newspaper devoted solely to Vonnegut's death.

My dad got me into Vonnegut when I was about 12. He was one of my dad's favorites. It was my dad's birthday yesterday.

Vonnegut is one of very few authors I loved in my adolescence who only gets better and better as I reread his work. He spoke to my sense of being a misfit. I don't feel like a misfit anymore, but when I read Vonnegut now I come to the realization that I am still a misfit, that everyone's a misfit, that we are, in fact, all misfits together.

The best essay I've read about Kurt Vonnegut not by Kurt Vonnegut was in Dale Peck's Hatchet Jobs. It is, as far as I could tell, the only positive review in that thing. As far as I'm concerned, especially today, Kurt Vonnegut was the greatest American novelist of the 20th Century.

Nobody's mentioned Palm Sunday, his "autobiographical collage." It's one of his greatest works. I reread a few years ago, and parts of it had me in tears. I can't remember whether it was in Palm Sunday or the "sequel" Fates Worse than Death where he talks about his suicide attempt, but his experience, and resilience in the face of his debilitating depression has always given me hope that friends of mine who've attempted suicide will go on to live a full life.

I'm shocked at my own shock. Even though I knew that he was very old, I still had the expectation that I would see him speak one day, or maybe even meet him (and I would promptly embarrass myself in front of my biggest heroes). Or, hell, he'd at least stick around long enough for the Swedish Academy to get a sense-of-humor transplant and reward him with the Nobel Prize.

I have so much more to say, but I've run out of words.

Kurt is up in heaven now.

*
posted by Kattullus at 5:10 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


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posted by nekton at 5:10 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by Reto at 5:10 AM on April 12, 2007


I had a long and philosophical conversation with an old friend yesterday morning, and afterward, the words "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be" popped, unbidden into my mind.

Now what do you suppose that means?

And - .
posted by kcds at 5:11 AM on April 12, 2007


One more thing. I think Vonnegut would get a kick out of twenty people marking his obituary as their "favorite" :)
posted by Kattullus at 5:13 AM on April 12, 2007


10 <-- This is Rockefeller on his wedding day.

0 <-- This is a normal day.

-10 <-- This is the morning Kafka wakes up as a cockroach.

-20 <-- This is me. Now.
posted by hal9k at 5:15 AM on April 12, 2007


"By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East?" he wrote. "Their morale, like so many bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas in December."

RIP
posted by hadjiboy at 5:18 AM on April 12, 2007


376 comments so far. Metafilter—you're very predictable.
posted by humblepigeon at 5:19 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by Dr-Baa at 5:19 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by furtive at 5:20 AM on April 12, 2007


......................
*************

I drink cold coffee in this godforsaken hotel for you, man.
posted by moonbird at 5:21 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by picea at 5:23 AM on April 12, 2007


.

I once heard him speak when I was at Brown University. He never seemed to overestimate the power of literature. He said, "My dentist thinks I wrote Kon-Tiki, and my congressman thinks I wrote A Clockwork Orange." Let's just hope his former son-in-law, Geraldo Rivera, doesn't try to have a TV special opening his crypt or something like that.
posted by jonp72 at 5:23 AM on April 12, 2007


He was, indeed, ready to go, and said as much. But I feel privileged to have been exposed to his wisdom.

Kurt, I hope you've found some pleasant surprises as of last night. You certainly deserve no less.


.
posted by pax digita at 5:26 AM on April 12, 2007


Damnit! Son of a bitch owed me $20!

So it goes. Kurt, the firestorm is over. May you rest in peace.

*
posted by purephase at 5:27 AM on April 12, 2007


Kilgore Trout once wrote a short story which was a dialogue between two pieces of yeast. They were discussing the possible purposes of life as they ate sugar and suffocated in their own excrement. Because of their limited intelligence, they never came close to guessing that they were making champagne.
.
posted by condour75 at 5:33 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


oops, what ronv quoted.
posted by condour75 at 5:34 AM on April 12, 2007


I have not read him since high school. I'm not sure why. I don't re-read books, as a rule. There just isn't enough time. There are so many more books to be read, and I will never be able to read them all. (I did re-read Catch-22, and more than once. That story -- the story of the brutality and senselessness of war -- has stayed with me my whole life, and comes floating back to me in fragments when I least expect it.)

But I may make an exception for Slaughterhouse Five.

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posted by jenii at 5:35 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by BeerGrin at 5:38 AM on April 12, 2007


"One thing which Uncle Alex found objectionable about human beings was that they seldom took time out to notice when they were happy. He himself did his best to acknowledge it when times were sweet. We could be drinking lemonade in the shade of an apple tree in the summertime, and he would interrupt the conversation to say, "If this isn't nice, what is?"

So, I hope that you Adams and Eves in front of me will do the same for the rest of your lives. When things are going sweetly and peacefully, please pause a moment, and then say out loud: 'If this isn't nice, what is?' Hold up your hands if you promise to do that."

Thanks, Kurt.
posted by Killick at 5:40 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by elquien at 5:50 AM on April 12, 2007


I'll never forget the famous urban legend attributing to him the advice to wear
sunscreen
.

Oh, this feels like when Hunter S. Thompson died...

.
posted by fuse theorem at 5:53 AM on April 12, 2007


.

(400, I think)
posted by WPW at 5:54 AM on April 12, 2007


Thank you, meat.

Great, now I've got tears in my eyes and it's only 9am
posted by 1f2frfbf at 5:56 AM on April 12, 2007


I think I'll commemorate his death by giving one of his books to someone who's never read any.

Whenever a young person comes into the bookstore where I work and asks for "a good book," my stock answer is, "Have you read Vonnegut?" I've been surprised at how many of them say no, so yeah, give a copy of Cat's Cradle to a young teenager you know today. The shock of recognition from reading that one - and Galapagos later on - changed me forever. Thanks, Kurt.
posted by mediareport at 5:59 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by TechnoLustLuddite at 6:06 AM on April 12, 2007


What makes me even sadder than his dying is that there will be no anonymous online emotional outpouring when I go.
posted by pmbuko at 6:07 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by Crash at 6:17 AM on April 12, 2007


What a way to start the day...

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posted by kableh at 6:17 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by Alpenglow at 6:19 AM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by popechunk at 6:19 AM on April 12, 2007


I read Slaughterhouse Five in high-school in 1991, while the Gulf War was going on. It was the first book I'd ever read that moved me in a way that wasn't purely escapist entertainment. I felt like a different person coming out the end of it than I was at the beginning, like the lines he drew on his wall passing through Dresden.

It was, more than anything else, what made me anti-war, which made me start questioning the society that could continuously and needlessly lead us into war over and over again. It was my political awakening, and the beginnings of a moral awakening for me as well.

I don't think I'd be who I am today had I not read that book when I did. The world is a better place for having had someone like Vonnegut in it. And I'm immensely sad that he's gone, though I know he's perfectly fine and still writing at many other moments right now.

So it goes.
posted by empath at 6:22 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by yeoz at 6:26 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by DragonBoy at 6:27 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by kuujjuarapik at 6:29 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by prostyle at 6:30 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by cass at 6:32 AM on April 12, 2007


I read Man Without A Country recently and was a little depressed that my worldview was so incredibly similar to that of a grumpy octegenarian. The world is a worse place for no longer being seen through his eyes.

*

Shit.
posted by PhatLobley at 6:32 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by Morrigan at 6:33 AM on April 12, 2007



posted by HuronBob at 6:33 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by RokkitNite at 6:38 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by Cyrano at 6:39 AM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by contessa at 6:42 AM on April 12, 2007


My hero. I will miss you. What gifts of wit and wisdom you gave us.
posted by timnyc at 6:43 AM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by timnyc at 6:45 AM on April 12, 2007


I don't think there were too many peple who did more to humanize 20th Century America.
posted by COBRA! at 6:45 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Kurt Vonnegut was the only author who ever made me mad enough to actually throw a book across the room. Thank you, Mr. Vonnegut.

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posted by ourobouros at 6:47 AM on April 12, 2007


The bottling of celebrity heads thing in Futurama? If I were a selfish person, and I really am when you get down to it, I'd bottle his head so he could keep giving interviews and dictate novels. But then I realize he just keeps saying the same basic thing:
Can you believe this? Can you make sense of this? Me neither. I suppose we should all just try to make the best of it and be kind to each other while we figure it out.
So simple but so many don't quite get it and even fewer act on it–myself included. I'd maunder on all day if I could...

Reading him always felt like sitting across the table and chatting with my grandfather. I discovered Vonnegut right around the same time he died and it was a way to extend those Saturday afternoons sitting across the table from an old man who was simultaneously bitter and sweet and who drank one after the other while smoking Winstons.
posted by Fezboy! at 6:48 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jerry Garcia had the rights to Sirens of Titan.

And Jerry named the music publishing arm of Grateful Dead Productions, Ice Nine.

So long, Kurt. I really enjoyed hearing you speak at the University of Maryland in the mid-80s and for all the wonderful stories you shared.

.
posted by terrapin at 6:53 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by firemouth at 6:55 AM on April 12, 2007


.

(he was wonderful--people forever will know the absurdity of life in the 20th century thanks to him)
posted by amberglow at 6:56 AM on April 12, 2007


My Grandfaloon is diminished.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:57 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by gomichild at 7:02 AM on April 12, 2007


*

Was googling for things this morning before I had to leave for work; being a Cornell alum, it's been driven into my head that he went there (Hocus Pocus was set around the Finger Lakes, and Cat's Cradle had some Cornell references as well), and also that he worked at the Daily Sun for a good long while. This quote has been on the Sun website for a while, and it is worth sharing:

I was happiest when I was all alone -- and it was very late at night, and I was walking up the hill after having helped put The Sun to bed. All the other university people, teachers and students alike,were asleep. They had been playing games all day long with what was known about real life. They had been repeating famous arguments and experiments, and asking one another the sorts of hard questions real life would be asking by and by. We on The Sun were already in the midst of real life. By God, if we weren't! We had just designed and written and caused to be manufactured yet another morning newspaper for a highly intelligent American community of respectable size — yes, and not during the Harding administration, either, but during 1940, 1941 and 1942, with the Great Depression ending, and with World War well begun. I am an atheist, as some of you have gleaned from my writings. But I have to tell you that, as I trudged up the hill so late at night and all alone, I knew that God Almighty approved of me.

Other items from the Sun today:

* A letter from 1980 from Vonnegut about breaking the Pearl Harbor bombing story.
* Video of Vonnegut speaking at the Sun's 125th Anniversary Banquet.
posted by Remy at 7:06 AM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


*
posted by Mcable at 7:08 AM on April 12, 2007


Thank you, Kurt, for everything you gave me, including that comment that you were committing suicide by cigarette, a tactic I have been trying to emulate for lo these many years now.

Damn.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:08 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


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posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 7:09 AM on April 12, 2007


So it goes.

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posted by MasonDixon at 7:14 AM on April 12, 2007


I'm going out back to bury my paperback of Sirens of Titan, now. Goodnight, Mr. Vonnegut. Thank you.
posted by steef at 7:14 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by whoshotwho at 7:14 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by mosessmith at 7:20 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by quite unimportant at 7:21 AM on April 12, 2007


Here I am, cleaning shit off of practically everything.
/
No pain.



God bless you, Mr. Vonnegut.

.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:22 AM on April 12, 2007


This thread has slightly diminished, at least for today, my general cynicism towards humanity much in the way Vonnegut's books could do. He could simultaneously show you how wretched we all are and how just maybe we have a chance in spite of ourselves. Thank you Metafilter and thank you Kurt Vonnegut.


So it goes.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 7:25 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I saw Vonnegut once, when I lived in Chicago. He was on a signing tour for Palm Sunday. I waited in line for hours at a Kroch & Brentano's to have him sign my first edition of Breakfast of Champions. The woman in front of me in line had a baby and a toddler in one of those double strollers.

When she got to the head of the line, he looked at her stroller and said that he'd always wanted to borrow one baby and a double stroller and go to a playground in a park. Once there, he wanted to pretend to look for the "missing" child. After every parent and nanny there had become absorbed in helping him search and call for the non-existent toddler, he would turn to them, say "oh well, I still have this one" and walk off.

Absolutely and without question my literary hero has passed.
posted by donnagirl at 7:26 AM on April 12, 2007 [14 favorites]


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posted by rubyeyo at 7:29 AM on April 12, 2007


Listen.

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posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 7:33 AM on April 12, 2007


So it goes.
posted by bink at 7:34 AM on April 12, 2007


Kurt is up in heaven now.


.
posted by ab3 at 7:36 AM on April 12, 2007


"If I were a younger man, I would write a history of human stupidity; and I would climb to the top of Mount McCabe and lie down on my back with my history for a pillow; and I would take from the ground some of the blue-white poison that makes statues of men; and I would make a statue of myself, lying on my back, grinning horribly, and thumbing my nose at You Know Who." -- Cat's Cradle

So it goes.

*
posted by Seabird at 7:39 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by jennyjenny at 7:39 AM on April 12, 2007


Still and all, why bother? Here's my answer. Many people need desperately to receive this message: I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.

I didn't know him, but I loved him.
posted by callmejay at 7:40 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks, Kurt.

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posted by slackdog at 7:40 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by ludwig_van at 7:45 AM on April 12, 2007


,
posted by porpoise at 7:46 AM on April 12, 2007


This gave me some comfort last Christmas. It gives me comfort anew this post-Easter week.

[...] For my part as a witness, if I could convey only one thing about James Brown it would be this: James Brown is, like Billy Pilgrim in Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, a man unstuck in time. He's a time traveler, but unlike the HG Wells-ian variety, he lacks any control over his migrations in time, which also seem to be circumscribed to the period of his own allotted lifespan. Indeed, it may be the case that James Brown is often confused as to what moment in time he occupies at any given moment. [...] This time-traveler theory would best explain what is hardest to explain about James Brown, especially to younger listeners who live so entirely in a sonic world of James Brown's creation: that he made it all sound this way. That it sounded different before him. [...] All his moments are one. James Brown, in this view, is always conceiving the idea of being James Brown, as if nobody, including himself, had thought of it until just now. At any given moment James Brown is presently reinventing funk. [...]

.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 7:46 AM on April 12, 2007 [12 favorites]


I just picked up Welcome to the Monkey House yesterday. It's astonishing that even his "slick" writing for Playboy or Cosmo is complex and layered and ultimately both cynical and full of hope. Vonnegut is a more compelling and coerisive humanist than Dawkins will ever be.

I think Vonnegut would laugh, by the way, at the teeth gnashing and hair-wrenching going on in this thread. I'm going to take this opportunity to join the ACLU. I urge concerned citizens to do the same.
posted by muddgirl at 7:49 AM on April 12, 2007


Goddamnit you fuckers, I'm sobbing here. I love you all so much, you bastards. I don't think I've ever felt less alone on this fucking ridiculous planet.

I didn't even cry like this when my grandma died two months ago and I loved her, too. I almost never cry - and never before for a "celebrity" or an individual I've never met.


Mr. Vonnegut? Thank you for the absurdly kind words that day at the flea market with a bit too much sunshine in my eyes. That day you taught me it was not only OK to laugh, but essential. Even if people stared and wondered.

For Wampeters and Foma and Granfaloons and ice-nine and karass and everything. Every last little thing you stubborn, stubbornly loving son of a bitch.

Thank you most of all for being humble and giving me Theodore Sturgeon. Thank you for paying his bills. Thank you for getting him work. Thank you for immortalizing him in your stories for those that would never hear of him otherwise, that they would at least know something of a sketch of his kind. Thank you for the incredible, awesome humility it must have taken to not only acknowledge him, but to openly acknowledge him as your better - and then even supporting him! Good God, man!

If it wasn't for you I would have never known his works. I couldn't ever thank you enough for your own writing... but that, that love and support for the word and for the love of humankind, I'm weeping. There will never be adequete words. There's only sorrow and loss and profound thanks.

And impossibly lucky, happy mud.

I'm glad you finally got what you wanted, old man. It was tearing me up watching your frustration.

Thanks for everything.

I don't think there's anything in the rulebooks about coming back as a bodhisvatta twice, y'know. God knows we need you.
posted by loquacious at 7:49 AM on April 12, 2007 [9 favorites]


When I was a freshman, the university had him as their first speaker of the year. I arrived hours early to the venue, only to find that I had been preceded by hundreds of people, lines snaking through the hallways, all waiting. Still, I managed to get a seat close to the stage, and in awe I spent every moment straining to see him over the tops of the students' heads. I will go home and dig out my photos of him from my dresser where they are kept safe, and remember.



.
posted by endermunkee at 7:52 AM on April 12, 2007


The first time I read Slaughterhouse-5, I started it while in the waiting room at a dentist's office. I was probably in sixth grade or so, and I hadn't read anything like it before. I began glancing around at the other people in the waiting room, positively charged with the thrill of discovery and though to myself, "These people have no idea what's going on over here. The way my brain works is actually changing right here in the same room as them." It felt like a secret shared by only me and Mr. Vonnegut, and I relished it.

In high school, we were assigned Harrison Bergeron in class, and I once again found myself marveling at him. The end of that story both amused and devastated me, and I became almost evangelical about getting my friends who weren't in that class to read the story.

When I went off to college, a small stack of Vonnegut's books were among the possessions I took across the country. As a sophomore at college I decided to go to the opening night screening at the New York Film Festival. I had thrown on some clothes that were wrinkled and might have used a washing, waited on line for a standby ticket, and finally got one. There were two screenings that night, and as I had ended up with one for the later screening I figured I might miss out on hearing the filmmakers speak, but I'd still get to see the movie. It turned out, however, that the later screening was the actual official opening, replete with red carpet and appearances by the stars. So I was directed to walk the red carpet, now underdressed and a bit unkempt. As I walked along, the flashbulbs started going off like crazy, and I started hearing the photographers yelling "Kurt! Kurt! Mr. Vonnegut over here!" and I realized that I was standing right behind a tuxedo clad Kurt Vonnegut. The realization that I likely appear somewhere in many rolls of film wearing a wrinkled red t-shirt behind Kurt Vonnegut gave me a rush of that same thrill from back in that dentist's office.

Thanks for all of it, Mr. Vonnegut.
posted by Nathaniel W at 7:57 AM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


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posted by Fully Completely at 7:58 AM on April 12, 2007


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posted by frecklefaerie at 8:02 AM on April 12, 2007


Dammit, I hate crying so early in the morning.

Sleep tight, lucky mud

*
posted by maryh at 8:06 AM on April 12, 2007


(*)
posted by Sir BoBoMonkey Pooflinger Esquire III at 8:09 AM on April 12, 2007


. . . . (*) . .
posted by Sir BoBoMonkey Pooflinger Esquire III at 8:11 AM on April 12, 2007


Oh, goddamnit. That magnificent bastard.

*
posted by cmyk at 8:12 AM on April 12, 2007


I can't believe that I forgot to mention that I directed a production of "Happy Birthday, Wanda June" back in high school. I had to fight the whole hegemony to get that play onto the stage, and it was wonderful. Even the props and set were amazing-- the real hunting trophies on the walls, the genuine smashed violin, the breakaway coffee table. Bringing Kurt Vonnegut's words to life was one of the greatest triumphs of my youth. I didn't just direct, either; I also played Von Koenigswald. Although they'll never see this comment, I want to thank Max, Ben, Andrew, Dale, Paul, Nina, Kelley, Mike, Beej, Howard, Phyllis, and everyone else whose time and effort made it possible.

And thank you, Mr. Vonnegut, most of all.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:16 AM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by secretary bird at 8:16 AM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by zeypher at 8:18 AM on April 12, 2007


Well, fuck.


*
posted by Nabubrush at 8:22 AM on April 12, 2007


2003: ... I myself feel that our country, for whose Constitution I fought in a just war, might as well have been invaded by Martians and body snatchers. Sometimes I wish it had been. What has happened, though, is that it has been taken over by means of the sleaziest, low-comedy, Keystone Cops-style coup d’etat imaginable. And those now in charge of the federal government are upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography, plus not-so-closeted white supremacists, aka “Christians,” and plus, most frighteningly, psychopathic personalities, or “PPs.” ...
posted by amberglow at 8:25 AM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by beta male at 8:30 AM on April 12, 2007


.



All the choices for "greatest living American author" now seem huge steps down from Mr. Vonnegut.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:31 AM on April 12, 2007


.
Slaughterhouse Five is probably my favourite book.
posted by rongorongo at 8:32 AM on April 12, 2007


I read Cat's Cradle when I was on vacation when I was 13. When I got back home I went to the used book store and bought every single Vonnegut they had and read them all within a few weeks. Fraking great stuff. I need to go back and re-read some of them now.
posted by octothorpe at 8:34 AM on April 12, 2007


oh no...

it's all borrowed sanity, from men like this. and they're closing up shop.

.
posted by dreamsign at 8:34 AM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


.
posted by scarabic at 8:37 AM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by talos at 8:47 AM on April 12, 2007


"If this isn't nice, what is?"
There is fellowship and community in our common loss. Thanks Metafites.
Thank you Kurt.
posted by ahimsakid at 8:47 AM on April 12, 2007


Breakfast of Champions saved my life. RIP.

.
posted by treepour at 8:47 AM on April 12, 2007


I can't recall ever wishing there was an afterlife before.

Miserable damn news. I'm going back to bed.

.
posted by -t at 8:48 AM on April 12, 2007


I can't recall ever wishing there was an afterlife before.

Miserable damn news. I'm going back to bed.

.
posted by -t at 8:48 AM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by item at 8:51 AM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by SBMike at 8:53 AM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by joedan at 8:54 AM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by subtle_squid at 8:54 AM on April 12, 2007


Same experience at octothorpe. Except the book was Slapstick (the one he gave himself a D for). Still one of my faves. Read them all one summer.
posted by timnyc at 9:00 AM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by scottymac at 9:07 AM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by hackwolf at 9:08 AM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:11 AM on April 12, 2007


If there is actually a personal, Calvanistic-type big ol' beardy God, there's some consolation in knowing that He's getting the ass-chewing of an eternity this morning.
posted by maryh at 9:13 AM on April 12, 2007 [13 favorites]


I cried this morning when I learned that a great voice was silenced.

I cried this morning when I walked into work and commented over the cube farm "Didja guys know the Kurt Vonnegut passed last night?" and heard several voices respond "Who's he?" and resume talking about who was kicked off on American Idol and how rich Larry Birkenhead will be.

Great voices are no longer heard, in many more ways than one.

Kurt, tears continue to fall for you today. Tomorrow I shall give thanks.

Verve
posted by verveonica at 9:16 AM on April 12, 2007


He didn't like the internet.

Kurt on Wikipedia.

An anecdote in memoriam.

Early on Sunday morning in the late 1980's I was kneeling on the pavement on West 53rd Street, next to the Museum of Modern Art. I was setting up my street vending display, selling African art. A tall, good looking man, who looked vaguely familiar stopped and asked to see the "Child's Elephant Dance Headdress from the Bamileke Tribe, Cameroon". It was barely 9am, too early for most people to buy anything and I thought he was just time wasting before the museum opened. But he insisted on seeing it. Somewhat irritated, I handed the mask to him and as I stood next to him said, "You look vaguely familiar, are you an actor?" He said nothing but now he looked irritated.

He looked over at the mask from Nigeria and said, "The Ibo people are the most stupid people I ever met." But I had a feeling he was directing that comment at me, lol. He abruptly said he'd take the mask and as I was standing in front of him, bagging it, he took out his checkbook, which seemed damned arrogant. I hadn't put out my sign that said "Personal Checks Accepted" yet. Since his checkbook was upside down in front of me it took a few seconds to read the name, K-u-r-t, holy shit, V-o-n-n-e-g-u-t. omg, Mr. Cat's Cradle himself. This was going to be a hard check to put in the bank, I just wanted the autograph.

He asked me to mail him the info about the mask, which I did. He said he was going to give the mask to his wife. Wish I could have said something to thank him for decades of being influenced by his work but how does one put that into words? Hell, I'd insulted him for thinking he was an actor. Sadly, that gave me a chuckle but it's been nice to think something I sold him was keeping him company all these years.

The bird has flown the cage.
posted by nickyskye at 9:19 AM on April 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


*

I've never been so depressed as I am right now. Fuck.
posted by Token Meme at 9:21 AM on April 12, 2007


*cough, cough*
posted by YamwotIam at 9:26 AM on April 12, 2007


I called my dad this morning to talk about Vonnegut and he told me that he'd once met him, which I never knew before. It was at a literary convention in Reykjavik, and my dad remembered him as very kind and warm man. I can't think of another author whose writing is as suffused with warmth and kindness like Vonnegut's.

I also tried to reach a friend of mine who lives in Buenos Aires. He doesn't read very much, but he's read everything Vonnegut's ever read. I feel proud of having started him on that route when I gave him Breakfast of Champions or Slaughterhouse 5 as a birthday gift one year.

I'm currently reading Chabon's new Yiddish Policemen's Union. I had this vague idea that the current generation of writers that incorporate comic books and mysteries and narrative trickery into their work were the offspring of Vonnegut. But it's not the case at all. They're nothing like him. The only author I can think of who is anything like Vonnegut is Laurence Sterne, much more than Mark Twain.
posted by Kattullus at 9:27 AM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by ChrisR at 9:30 AM on April 12, 2007


Peace KV, peace.
posted by Witty at 9:31 AM on April 12, 2007


Vonnegut on The Daily Show

.
posted by naoko at 9:33 AM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by HyperBlue at 9:35 AM on April 12, 2007


I read Slaughterhouse-Five in high school. And then promptly read and re-read everything else that was in print by Mr. Vonnegut up till that time. Which was a long time ago.

The news this morning that he had died caused me to think, Oh, too bad, in a very generalized way. Then a few people wrote to me about crying in front of their computers at the news. Then I read this thread and remembered how much I'd loved his writing and realized how easily I'd forgotten that enjoyment.

Thanks, MeFites, for reminding me.

And thank you, Mr. Vonnegut, for many, many hours that entertained as they instructed and instructed as they entertained. I didn't know books could be like that even as I didn't know I was realizing that very thing.

Effortless.

.
posted by the sobsister at 9:38 AM on April 12, 2007


Kurt Vonnegut has become unstuck in time.
posted by Dr. Boom at 9:42 AM on April 12, 2007


Slaughterhouse-Five rightfully gets a lot of attention. But my favorite work of his is Jailbird, the obituary of the 20th century. The revolution won't be televised, because there won't be a revolution, and there never was going to be. Vonnegut knew that.
posted by spaltavian at 9:43 AM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by Ogre Lawless at 9:47 AM on April 12, 2007


busy.
busy.
busy.

.
posted by bonecrusher at 9:58 AM on April 12, 2007


No one has mentioned my favorite Vonnegut quote, which pretty much sums up the way I try to live my life:

"We are here to help each other through this thing, whatever it is."
posted by gramcracker at 10:00 AM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


And if you've never read "God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian," by Vonnegut, it's an absolutely beautiful little thing, requiring no more than 20 minutes of your time.
posted by gramcracker at 10:03 AM on April 12, 2007


I remember seeing him at UC, the very school that rejected his masters thesis and refused him a degree until Cat's Cradle. He told his story and summed his "wonderful paper" with such humor, such dignity in wit, such grace and gentility, smiling at the students as though they know so much more than the administration, whom he referred to repeatedly as "liars."

He answered every question with pause and thoughtfulness, and when some east coast ass put down his childhood home in the midwest, he angrily defended it as a source of several prominent authors and artists, before returning to his usual non-chalance. I knew it then, and can only hold onto it now, as an encounter with the Twain of our time, one of the bravest, most honest and creative thinkers America has produced. Tough and true to the very end.
.
posted by sarcasman at 10:06 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


the vonnegut on the daily show link is wrong. here is the correct link:

vonnegut, daily show
posted by shmegegge at 10:16 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Mods: thanks you for deleting davidmsc's comments (and my own kneejerk reaction, too).
posted by jokeefe at 10:21 AM on April 12, 2007


Oh, gramcracker. Same here.

It's the mean bastards who always think they have the corner on the truths of the world, and when I was an adolescent on the verge of joining them -- just waiting for the bombs to drop that would turn the whole world to ice -- Vonnegut helped me remember the truth: kindness is true courage. So is love. Even if it is written:

What Can a Thoughtful Man Hope for Mankind on Earth, Given the Experience of the Past Million Years?

Nothing.

He made me laugh and he rescued me from the ice, and I will always love him for that.
posted by melissa may at 10:22 AM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by prambutan at 10:27 AM on April 12, 2007


I feel miserable. My sister gave me a copy of Breakfast of Champions when I was at university, and I read it with the same sense of astonishment as many in this thread at what he was doing. I'd never read anything like it. One of my small aims in life has been to get more people to read Vonnegut. I don't know how many copies of his books I've given away to friends. A few weeks ago I moved into a new flat with bare walls and I bought a signed print of one of his ridiculous doodles. It's sitting here next to me, and it's making me cry. I now realise that I've been dreading Vonneguts' death for years.
posted by gravelshoes at 10:36 AM on April 12, 2007


Thank you, KV, for doing what you've always done - making me smile through my tears.

Rest well, lucky mud.

*
posted by Space Kitty at 10:49 AM on April 12, 2007


The Society of People Asked Not to Return to University of Chicago Anthropology is short one member.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:49 AM on April 12, 2007


David Markson told me this story about having a book signing with Vonnegut. Apparently, it was basically impossible to carry on conversation with him because there was this constant and overwhelming outpouring of affection and love from Vonnegut's fans. Markson was shocked and said he'd never known of another writer who was loved as much as Vonnegut. While I second many posters who talk of Vonnegut's discontent with the current deplorable state of the human race, it is something of a balm to know that he was loved (and knew he was loved) so fiercely for his life's work.
posted by Football Bat at 10:55 AM on April 12, 2007


I loved the man.
And for good reasons.
Thanks for introducing me to my wife.

*
posted by lilnemo at 10:58 AM on April 12, 2007


And thank you, metafilter, for giving me a place to commiserate.
posted by Space Kitty at 10:59 AM on April 12, 2007


So it goes, from indexed.
posted by ourobouros at 11:11 AM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by cowbellemoo at 11:22 AM on April 12, 2007


.

Man, the last time I cried when a famous person died, it was Jim Henson. And I was 9. Vonnegut's books have changed my life. I wish I had a chance to shake his hand.

I just started "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" yesterday. It's the only novel of his I haven't yet read.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 11:32 AM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by bshort at 11:36 AM on April 12, 2007


.

One of my original favorites, and certainly one of the best of the 20th century.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:37 AM on April 12, 2007


I haven't read enough Vonnegut, and I've never been so glad to work at a bookstore for tomorrow I can go in and wander out of work with as much Vonnegut as my arms can carry.

Though to be honest, if there's any left on the shelves, I'm going to be disappointed in humanity.

Kurt's in heaven now.

*
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:42 AM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by verysleeping at 11:42 AM on April 12, 2007


A long time ago, I was with a group of people being held hostage by a young man who was listing all the famous people from his home state of Indiana. Just to yank his chain, I threw in Eliot Rosewater. Someone else in the group said, "Where do I know that name?" I introduced myself to her and we talked about Mr. Vonnegut's books.

A few years after our wedding, we met Mr. Vonnegut and recounted the story to him. He apologized to my wife. Delicious.

On preview: no, I didn't marry lilnemo. It looks like Mr. Vonnegut could have been a matchmaker on the side.
posted by joaquim at 11:48 AM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 11:50 AM on April 12, 2007


Kurt Vonnegut on GooTube.

"When you're dead, you're dead. Make love when you can. It's good for you." Kurt Vonnegut
posted by nickyskye at 11:53 AM on April 12, 2007




.
posted by cyrusdogstar at 12:00 PM on April 12, 2007


crap. he was the only author I ever read whose forwards were actually worth something. thanks for infecting me with humanity so early on kurt. i love you.

 
.
posted by nerdcore at 12:05 PM on April 12, 2007


When my nephew was born, thousands of miles away, I sent him a plush panda and a copy of slaughterhouse five. I figured the panda could look after him until he learned to read.

PS. DAMN YOU METAFILTER! THIS ISN'T WHAT I PAID MY FIVE BUCKS FOR
posted by Sparx at 12:13 PM on April 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


When someone like Vonnegut dies, a whole universe winks out of existence.

*

.
posted by speicus at 12:17 PM on April 12, 2007


.

---------------------------------------------------

I'm going to go find my duplicate copies of Mother Night and Breakfast of Champions and see if the public library here takes worn out paperbacks as donations. The only Vonnegut they have is one Slaughterhouse Five. Besides, reading a crisp, new, hardback Vonnegut seems unnatural. Wish I had a copy of Galapagos to give them--my extra Origin of Species (which they also don't have) will have to do.
posted by crake at 12:22 PM on April 12, 2007


.

what a sad day. fuck.
posted by vaportrail at 12:34 PM on April 12, 2007


To quote Kurt Vonnegut: "He died. So it goes."

*sniff*
posted by dejah420 at 1:06 PM on April 12, 2007


Mustard gas

and roses.
posted by hal9k at 1:08 PM on April 12, 2007


Okay; but I still don't see why they call him a controversial Christian cartoonist.
posted by found missing at 1:59 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


So it goes...
posted by x_3mta3 at 2:01 PM on April 12, 2007


I'm sorry, but upon reflection,
I am upgrading...

*
posted by humannaire at 2:10 PM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by Onanist at 2:15 PM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by nola at 2:15 PM on April 12, 2007


Isn't it kind of rude to use the splat * sign, just because he died of brain injuries as a result of a fall?
posted by found missing at 2:29 PM on April 12, 2007


allaboutgeorge's comments have piqued my interest in his other works.

. RIP .
posted by winks007 at 2:40 PM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by Zozo at 2:44 PM on April 12, 2007


don't forget to read Player Piano (that was my first of his, and his first novel--i find a lot of people haven't ever read it).
posted by amberglow at 2:51 PM on April 12, 2007


found missing: Please Read Breakfast of Champions. You will immediately understand the depth of using the asterisk here for Mr. Vonnegut.
posted by verveonica at 3:06 PM on April 12, 2007


Yeah, that “.” has never been more appropriate here.

There are no words.

.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:08 PM on April 12, 2007




.
posted by Devils Slide at 3:23 PM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:41 PM on April 12, 2007


So it goes, indeed. I don't know that I would have been a coherent human being if I hadn't discovered KV at a critical formative time in my life.

.
posted by thermogenesis at 3:44 PM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by ktoad at 3:46 PM on April 12, 2007


how totally and horribly sad. my favorite author by far. my cats name is even bokamaru... i have read almost all his works and feel the need to reread a few old favorites.

hi ho.
posted by stackmonster at 4:12 PM on April 12, 2007


batshitinsane
posted by Dr.James.Orin.Incandenza at 4:18 PM on April 12, 2007


Poo-te-weet
posted by Navelgazer at 4:34 PM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by glycolized at 4:42 PM on April 12, 2007


found missing: Please Read Breakfast of Champions. You will immediately understand the depth of using the asterisk here for Mr. Vonnegut.

What makes you think I haven't read it? I've read all his books, and I know his little asshole symbol. So, if it isn't a splat, it's an asshole.
posted by found missing at 4:42 PM on April 12, 2007


"I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you any different."
posted by onyermarx at 4:42 PM on April 12, 2007


great tribute at digby: Bad Uncle, Good Uncle , including this: --... But I had a good uncle, my late Uncle Alex. He was my father's kid brother, a childless graduate of Harvard who was an honest life-insurance salesman in Indianapolis. He was well-read and wise. And his principal complaint about other human beings was that they so seldom noticed it when they were happy. So when we were drinking lemonade under an apple tree in the summer, say, and talking lazily about this and that, almost buzzing like honeybees, Uncle Alex would suddenly interrupt the agreeable blather to exclaim, "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is."

So I do the same now, and so do my kids and grandkids. And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is." ...

posted by amberglow at 4:44 PM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by Adam_S at 4:50 PM on April 12, 2007


Well fuck.
.
posted by brundlefly at 4:54 PM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by unrepentanthippie at 5:01 PM on April 12, 2007


Pandagon too -- ...Still, Vonnegut is a symbol of the 20th century version of the Enlightenment, what you might call the populist era of the Enlightenment in America, a time when ordinary people really started to reject, in large numbers, the mythologies about the greatness of war and the mandatory nature of religion and finally began to ask some hard questions about these things. Vonnegut was at the forefront, and his death, coming at a time when fundamentalism and a war lust that refuses to even put a good show of justifying itself are on the rise. It’s a lot like Molly Ivins’ death in that way.
...

posted by amberglow at 5:12 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


.
posted by brilliantmistake at 5:12 PM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by Marla Singer at 5:13 PM on April 12, 2007


And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is."

That's awesome. Thanks for that, amberglow.
posted by scody at 5:24 PM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


found missing, verveonica: I was thinking of the asterisk in Galapagos, not Breakfast of Champions, which is a harbinger of death, not a sphincter.
posted by speicus at 5:26 PM on April 12, 2007


ah so. Makes more sense in the current context.
posted by found missing at 5:38 PM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by effwerd at 5:49 PM on April 12, 2007


Questions: what was the "cross" symbol about, up there, directed at me?
posted by davidmsc at 6:00 PM on April 12, 2007


You know, it's just weird. I haven't turned on the television in two weeks. And for no reason, I turn it on and the first thing I see is Keith Olberman telling me Kurt Vonnegut is dead.

I really loved that man. I've always wanted to, you know, give him a hug. And thank him.

again: .
posted by effwerd at 6:01 PM on April 12, 2007


*
posted by theora55 at 7:17 PM on April 12, 2007


When I was just hitting puberty I stumbled across the story 'Welcome to the Monkey House' and got one of my first boners. So thanks for that, dude. RIP

*
posted by Bron at 7:21 PM on April 12, 2007


Wow. Until late last night, I had never heard of Kurt Vonnegut. Looks like I need to visit the library on my way home from work tomorrow.
posted by JDHarper at 7:22 PM on April 12, 2007


So not a lot of people know that "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" was a flop of an off-Broadway musical back in 1979, written by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken of "The Little Mermaid" fame. We did it in high school, I played Kilgore Trout, and one lyric from the end of act I always stuck with me.

Diana Moon Glampers, future Handicapper General in "Harrison Bergeron" sang as follows:

"I always used to think that God just plain forgot me,
or maybe got my life mixed up with someone who was not me.
I'm still a little scared, I'm still a little sad,
but I've got to confess, it ain't been half so bad,
I think I'm coming around, since you came to this town.

God bless you, Mr. Rosewater,
God help us 'til you came.
God keep you where we need you
God love you and your name.
God bless you Mr. Rosewater,
God bless you."

Good night, Mr. Vonnegut. Thanks.

.
posted by StrangeTikiGod at 7:33 PM on April 12, 2007


Galapagos changed my mind about a great many things.

.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:43 PM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by ztdavis at 7:53 PM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by amphioxus at 8:08 PM on April 12, 2007


*

.

And so it goes.
posted by annasbrew at 8:10 PM on April 12, 2007



posted by DoctorFedora at 8:21 PM on April 12, 2007


Guh, can't post inline images. Adding my own tribute/obit.
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:22 PM on April 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


.
posted by tmcw at 8:28 PM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by graventy at 8:39 PM on April 12, 2007


Alright, I've already expressed my terrible sadness upstream and I've been avoiding coming on here all day because this is a terrible loss and I knew you guys would be justifiably inconsolable, there's almost 600 comments! (there is hope for us yet my friends, my admiration for Mefites has never been greater), but I just read this interview Vonnegut did back in 2005 on the PBS program NOW (yes, already pointed out up stream) and it had me laughing my ass off and I think that's the best we can do right now is to keep laughing. I'm sure that is what KV would have wanted, so please read it (I especially thought it hilarious when he talks about his "bad" uncle). Anyhow, if this interview isn't nice I don't know what is...
posted by Skygazer at 9:36 PM on April 12, 2007


.
posted by dazed_one at 9:51 PM on April 12, 2007


Poo-te-weet?
posted by eritain at 11:52 PM on April 12, 2007


Coming in late on this wake, but Goddamn it...

.
posted by ninthart at 2:44 AM on April 13, 2007


Poo-te-weet?

I don't get the Vonnegut reference, but I recognized it as a song title from Mike Keneally's album Dancing.

I went to the bookshelf last night, hoping to find some solace in Cat's Cradle, but it appears that I've given it away. Again.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:55 AM on April 13, 2007


I posted my own tribute here -- too big for the comments section. Read if you like...
posted by chinese_fashion at 7:04 AM on April 13, 2007


Poo-te-weet is the sound of the birds after a massacre from Slaughterhouse Five.
posted by dazed_one at 7:37 AM on April 13, 2007


I always wanted to write just like him.

A wisp of undifferentiated nothingness.
posted by tkchrist at 8:19 AM on April 13, 2007


When I found out the news I was without the internet. The first thing I wanted to do was come on the blue, it hasn't disappointed. He may not have liked the internet, but it looks like the internet loves him.

*
posted by Gratishades at 8:22 AM on April 13, 2007


I'm glad he made it as long as he did. He was an obvious candidate for suicide, if for no other reason than witnessing the annihilation of Dresden.
posted by me & my monkey at 8:26 AM on April 13, 2007


my boyfriend read slaughterhouse-five for the first time a while back, and i really enjoyed seeing how much he loved it. then we were talking about vonnegut in general, and i mentioned that when i was stuck in the hospital as a teenager the only book they had in the commons area that wasn't like, woman's day recipes from 1972 or something was this bizarre telecast based on vonnegut's writings. and i remembered enjoying it, a lot, but since then i had forgotten its name and none of the stuff in book flaps or on amazon by him rang a bell. i was beginning to think i was crazy and had imagined it. but no. a couple weeks ago my boyfriend surprised me--he tracked it down and bought me a beloved worn copy that looked identical to the one in the hospital. between time and timbuktu. then wednesday night we went to a friend's tapas and drinks birthday party and stayed out late. we get home and i'm about to turn the light off to go to bed--we both work the next morning--and my boyfriend interrupts to tell me vonnegut had passed away, and how. and it made my night sad. but i was also happy, because i love my boyfriend, and i loved reading vonnegut, and i had just been talking about his stuff with a few coworkers 2 days earlier. he's great because he could be totally brilliant but never ethereal or "above," distantly intellectual. his books are the kind people want to discuss in a friendly and social, enthusiastic manner to strangers. whenever i talk about favorite vonnegut books with other people, i can't help but end up grinning like an idiot. and they do too.
posted by ifjuly at 9:20 AM on April 13, 2007


Last night, i realized that Life on Mars reminded me of Vonnegut (the unstuck in time thing, i guess)
posted by amberglow at 9:29 AM on April 13, 2007


*
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:08 PM on April 13, 2007




.
posted by brevator at 8:37 PM on April 13, 2007


.
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 1:52 AM on April 14, 2007


.


BBC documentary
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
posted by acro at 9:55 AM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


If anyone is still reading this, MeFi's own ed has an excellent collection of Vonnegut links on his blog.
posted by Kattullus at 11:58 AM on April 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


*
posted by Jaybo at 10:03 PM on April 14, 2007


Holy cow. Two more comments and there's 600 on this thread.

RIP Kurt.
posted by darkstar at 11:38 PM on April 14, 2007


acro: thanks for the BBC links. An interesting combination of drama and documentary, there. What a joy to see Vonnegut interviewed. Filled me with warmth, and renewed appreciation for that wonderful soul, Kurt Vonnegut.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:24 AM on April 15, 2007


600.
posted by shmegegge at 11:32 AM on April 15, 2007


The fact that 2 of the last 3 of 600 comments are discussing the very achievement of reaching 600 comments is kind of silly.
posted by tehloki at 7:35 PM on April 15, 2007


kind of silly.

Yay! I'm the 1 from the 2 out of 3 that wasn't silly! (Of course, Vonnegut often displayed a certain fondness for silliness, so silliness is not entirely inappropriate in this thread, I think).

I'm number 602!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:04 PM on April 15, 2007


I'm number 735 - I've become unstuck in comment count.
posted by Chuckles at 8:13 PM on April 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


I watched the letters slowly disappear off of the screen and enter the user's fingers via some kind of keyboard....
posted by tehloki at 1:35 AM on April 16, 2007


Hmm - the only Vonnegut book I read was Cat's Cradle, and I struggled with it... perhaps I should try again, or try another of his, as an awful lot of people seem to rate him.

RIP
posted by Chunder at 4:32 AM on April 16, 2007


Chunder: Cat's Cradle is probably one of my favourite Vonnegut books, but I don't really think it's his best. Try Slaughterhouse 5.

The first Vonnegut book I ever read was Hocus Pocus. It was an odd little book, but endeared me to the man forever.
posted by antifuse at 6:35 AM on April 16, 2007


Here's Something depressing for all of you: the callously partisan Vonnegut video obit by Fox News. (I did my best to Google that this wasn't up already on mefi.) NYC Lit blogger Maud Newton was particularly offended by this part: "By the late ’70s, Vonnegut was rich and irrelevant, the subject of other people’s books, and a sacred cow of the New York literary scene."

But for my money the final lines are by far the worst. Though, it's a tight race in a piece that more-or-less positions him as a confused, wrong-headed and depressed comic author who's critical success more or less made him a life-long pet of the sinister "New York Liberal Establishment."
posted by ProfLinusPauling at 9:54 PM on April 16, 2007


Philip K. Dick on Kurt Vonnegut:

Interviewer: What did you think of Vonnegut’s attitude towards his characters (in Breakfast of Champions)?

PKD : Disgusting and an abomination. I think that that book is an incredible drying up of the liquid sap of life in the veins of a person like a dead tree…that’s what I think. I also love Kurt Vonnegut.

posted by tehloki at 10:48 PM on April 16, 2007


I hated Breakfast of Champions too. Really didn't like it. In fact, Vonnegut fascinated me because there seemed to be no middle ground. Slaughterhouse Five? A work of true genius. Slapstick? (Which the author himself reportedly disliked, in fact he graded it a D.) Loved it. Cat’s Cradle, Player Piano, Deadeye Dick? Didn't think much of them. Mother Night, God Bless You Mr. Rosewater? Wonderful. Welcome to the Monkey House left me cold. Wampeters, Foma, & Granfalloons and Palm Sunday? Admired them greatly.

What an amazing man. Anyway, I just came back in here again because, in less than 10 minutes of wandering the web, I came across two historic pieces by Kurt V. no one has yet posted, Der Arme Dolmetscher from 1955, and The Worst Addiction of Them All, from 1983. Both quite good.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:37 PM on April 16, 2007


I suspect that Vonnegut would have approved of the frank and amusing Fox News obituary linked above.

Look I have enjoyed reading Vonnegut as much as anyone here. But I think that most of us understand that he was not a writer for grownups. His work is somewhere between Gary Paulsen and Hemingway--writing for advanced adolescents or young adults. He was by no means a literary giant, he was an engaging and talented pulp writer who happened to catch a counter cultural wave. RIP.
posted by LarryC at 5:41 AM on April 17, 2007


Vonnegut on his style: Q: By way of eloquence, you've said that you write in the voice of a child. Do you think —

Vonnegut: Well, that makes me readable in high school. Not too many big sentences. But I hope that my ideas attract a lively dialogue, even if my sentences are simple. Simple sentences have always served me well. And I don't use semicolons. It's hard to read anyway, especially for high school kids. Also, I avoid irony, too. I don't like people saying one thing and meaning the other.

posted by amberglow at 6:50 AM on April 17, 2007


Very nice, Amberglow. One of the most charming things about Vonnegut is his honest appraisal of his own work. He would have little patience I think with those trying to deify him or add him to the canon.
posted by LarryC at 10:29 AM on April 17, 2007


and that's why he deserves canonization--his honesty and simplicity--it's a very no-bullshit attitude that speaks to millions, yet wasn't stilted or trying to overcompensate or anything (a la Hemingway). : >
posted by amberglow at 3:54 PM on April 17, 2007


Hey, don't diss Papa. At least he didn't fail at suicide.
posted by muckster at 10:18 PM on April 17, 2007


that's true. Hemingway was like a god to many in Vonnegut's generation i think--and he certainly was the most famous American writer during Vonnegut's youth and young adulthood.
posted by amberglow at 6:29 PM on April 18, 2007


(I guess it was Hemingway and Steinbeck)
posted by amberglow at 6:30 PM on April 18, 2007


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