4/12/2007

R.I.P. KV

  Kurt Vonnegut has died.

  Go out and read a book, one of his would serve you best, but you should definitely do something today to honor this man.

  KV lead a remarkable life and was an amazing author. During WWII he was at the Battle of the Bulge and survived the fire bombing of Dresden as a POW.

  My good friend Bob turned me on to to Vonnegut with "Slaughter House 5". Bob and Kurt are both dead now but I still have the books to fuel the fires they started. Jon Stewart interviewed KV on the daily show last year. It was one of the most amazing interviews, KV had an amazing awareness of the country's current situation.

  He was a modern day Mark Twain in many ways.  Kurt lived in Pittsburgh for a while (Just like everyone else worth their salt). Here is an interview with Kurt that is really very telling;

 

Breakfast with Kurt Vonnegut
by Marylynn Uricchio
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 9, 1998

Q. You noted that humorists become intolerably unfunny if they live past a certain age. What happens to them?

A. Mark Twain is the prime example I have in mind. I think humor is a way of holding off how awful life can be, to protect yourself. Finally, you get just too tired and the news is too awful and humor doesn't work anymore. Somebody like Mark Twain thought life was quite awful, but held the awfulness at bay with jokes and so forth and finally couldn't do it anymore, but of course his wife died, his best friend died and two of his daughters had died. If you live long enough, a lot of people close to you are going to die.

Q. What do you think happens when we die?

A. I'm honorary president of the American Humanist Association. I succeeded Issac Asimov, and we behave as well as we can without any expectation of rewards and punishments and an afterlife, and so I don't think there is one. My brother and sister didn't think there was one, my parents and grandparents didn't think there was one; it was enough that they were alive. I love sleep, don't you?

Q. Did you say Timequake was your last book so you couldn't change your mind?

A. I'm quite old. I'll be 76 in a few days. Some of this is an actuarial matter. I'm writing short stuff, I'm writing an op ed piece today about the hurricane in South America, but that's all I'm doing now. No more novels. No more books need be written.

Q. Do you ever write just for you, not for publication?

A. Well you don't have to write it down. I'm sure you do the same thing. You have many thoughts you keep to yourself. No, I haven't had any secret stuff. I've written a whole lot of stuff I thought was garbage, finally, and tried not to show it to anybody and thrown it away and I was right, it was garbage.

Q. You once said you aren't taken seriously enough. Do you still feel that way?

A. No. I don't feel that. That isn't quite right. Critics get a hell of a lot of books every week to review and they practice triage what might be good and what maybe isn't worth reviewing. There are genres of novels which are thought to be inferior. Cowboy stories, detective stories and science fiction critics will push them aside. I was classified as science fiction, which was a great relief to many reviewers because they didn't have to read me.

Q. What harm has technology done to society?

A. The computer and forms of home entertainment have cut way down on human contact and lessened the intimacy of family life because they give people other things to do instead of talking to their kids or their parents.

Q. When your work is talked about 100 years from now, what do you want people to say?

A. I doubt it will be talked about 100 years from now. I don't know. All I really wanted to do was give people the relief of laughing. Humor can be a relief, like an aspirin tablet. I'd be certainly pleased if 100 years from now people are still laughing.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Eric said...

Well said, sir.
. . . you too, Brian.

12:40 PM  

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