Saturday, May 24, 2008

My Favorite Author

I have, for some time now wanted to write a little bit about my favorite author Kurt Vonnegut Jr., most American readers will know some of Vonnegut's words from his most famous novel "Slaughter-House 5" which has become basically required reading. His books are completely without genre. Part love stories, social commentary, and definitely science fiction, Vonnegut will take you to places you have never been to and make you feel part of the scene. Main and supporting characters become close friends and you can see yourself in about every character. Another unique aspect of Vonnegut's writing is that he has some main themes and also characters that travel through many of his novels (the most popular of course is either Kurt himself or Kilgore Trout).

Kurts style most likely developed from the fact that he was NOT an english major, he went through school in the chemistry department, and subsequently some scientific themes can also be noted in his books (especially Cat's Cradle). I watched an interview of Kurt on Charlie Rose, and Vonnegut said "the best thing for a writer to do is stay out of the English department!" he later describes that if you are a english student and you write something for your professor he will say "well this is very good ______ (fill in your name), but there are some problems. Let me show you how James Joyce approached this issue." We can see that you cant grow as a writer and have inspiration if you are constantly being compared to the greatest writers in history.

Outside of writing, the human named Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was just as interesting and endearing as the writer. He was president of the Humanists (taking over for Issac Asimov) and generally a caring and considerate man. He urged people to write to make "your soul grow". Although he was quite the critic of mankind's propensity for atrocity (as he was part of it in WWII"), he was always level-headed enough to see both sides of humanity, both the love/hate, sadness/happiness, and the glory/gloomy.

His books cannot be put into a genre or time period, they are simply timeless. If you are unfamiliar with his writing I suggest my favorite book of his "Mother Night". Also you can type "Kurt Vonnegut Jr quotes" in google, and find so many great quips, advice, and social criticism. Vonnegut died months ago, and I am still stunned. I dont go more than a day without thinking about what Vonnegut said his uncle used to say, roughly "if this isn't nice, i dont know what is." We constantly throughout our lives never truly recognize what we have, when we have it. I can only hope Vonnegut knew and appreciated his impact on the human race.

I am really sad to put this video in this post as it angers me so, but its important to see how terrible American news and Fox news in particular is/ or has become. This is their memorial to Vonnegut, note this is just after his death, "Faux" news calls him a "liberal writer" and "irrelevant".

But to combat this awful "news story" i will repost this video, as well as tell you all Kurt's favorite joke "Kurt is in heaven now."


Dusty Wilmes said...

Nice post Zak. I think you describe Kurt Vonnegut's writing and him as a person very well, and in the spirit of the author himself. I never had the occasion to read much by Vonnegut, but after your recommendations over the past year or two I finally read "Cat's Cradle" and it was really excellent, one of the best books of read in a while. This book really is uncategorizable-- he uses science fiction as a vessel for expressing philosophical points or social commentary, which I think are his primary focus. And it's just about life and feelings and trying to make sense of the world. The fantastical elements of the story though definitely add something unique, keep things interesting. In general I loved the writing style, very edgy and colloquial and witty.

Anonymous said...

right on man Kurt was a great author. I loved so many of his books.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the post. I will not watch Fox news. Thank you for the reinforcement.
I've enjoyed reading Vonnegut's novels, stories, articles. I didn't realize that he was irrelevant.
What does that make me...and you?

Anonymous said...

There's an artist/screenprinter here in Lexington by the name of Joe Petro that would frequent the liquor store where I worked a couple years back. He would always buy 2 cartons of Pall Mall cigarettes with his case of wine.

One evening, in walks Joe Petro accompanied by a short, scruffy looking old man. They browse the store, fill up their cart, and come to the register. While ringing up their stuff, I look at the old man and come to the stunning realization that he is none other than Ralph Steadman.

I was in shock. I told him I was a fan and asked him what he was doing in town. He said he was in town doing some screen prints with Petro. Pretty cool stuff but it gets better.

Petro asks for his usual 2 cartons of Pall Malls and Steadman proceeds to ask him what the hell those are for. Petro replies with, "They are for Vonnegut. I mail them to him every few weeks."

This was quite the moment. A local legend and fucking Ralph Steadman were in front of me talking about mailing cigarettes to Kurt Vonnegut.

Ralph Steadman came back a week later and signed a few bottles of Flying Dog Gonzo Porter that he did the label artwork for.

That's my Kurt Vonnegut story. He will be missed.

Anonymous said...

where else are you gonna learn about chronosynclasticinfidibulas?