Thursday, April 12, 2007

R.I.P. Kurt Vonnegut

Sad news today. Kurt Vonnegut has died at age 84.

I really enjoyed the work of Vonnegut. I'm sure I've read at least 5 or 6 of his books. He had a style and a charm that was so endearing, he will really be missed. In high school I was first introduced to Vonnegut reading Slaughterhouse-Five. Which was unlike anything I'd ever read before. That was back in the formative grade 9, where I also first discovered George Orwell, William Golding, and Tom Robbins. Slaughterhouse-Five really stood out to me though as finally one of the first examinations of the 'human condition' that I could not only comprehend, but actually relate to. And its not that his subject matter was particularly relevant to my life, although I did love the time travel sci fi stuff, but Vonnegut had a way of revealing the often disturbing nature of his characters in ways that were so believable that the circumstance of the plot was secondary. Sometime after that I was exposed to the work of David Cronenberg, who in the same vein remains one of my favorite directors. But Vonneguts influence on me continued over the years.

I have always been a fan of serialized television. Short stories of the weird, or macabre. And while I leaned more towards The Outer Limits usually than Twilight Zone, I remember the first time I saw Vonnegut's short lived Welcome to the Monkey House tv series extremely well. It began with Vonnegut himself on screen introducing the story you were about to see. But while others had done this before, Hitchcock obviously but also Ray Bradbury, I really felt a connection with the man, Kurt Vonnegut. He reminded me of what I imagine Mark Twain was like, a while I know its probably somewhat inspired by most 'televised' iterations of Twain, I also felt like both of them had a kinship in the droll and mischievous.

If you haven't read any Vonnegut I would recommend you definitely check him out. Maybe start with the excellent Breakfast of Champions. Either that or Welcome to the Monkey House (which is a collection of short stories) to get a good overall flavor of the man. You really won't be dissapointed if you do.

As for me I would just like to say thank you Kurt for all the great stories.
You will be missed.


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