Wednesday, April 11, 2007

So Vonnegut Goes

The literary rascal and rogue Kurt Vonnegut died today in New York City. He was 84.

This is a guy many of us will REALLY miss!

Even most great novelists think inside the box. Most essayists and playwrights think inside the box. Heavens, most poets think inside the box.

In American literature, no literary lion defines "outside the box" better than Vonnegut.

He was a cross between Thomas Pynchon and Monty Python.

He was a cross between Philip K. Dick and Mark Twain.

He was a cross between your most absurd professor and a sassy school boy.

A crotchety grad student goes to kindergarten and of course the other way around, too.

He was the Cheshire Cat of the counter culture!

Good gosh, I loved the man in print, in interviews, at play. Deep play: you could see the conundrums of depth and play in his craggy face, in his hair, in his cartoonish and curmudgeonly bouncing around outside the box!

Such sadness, even the specters of suicide (his mother's and potentially his own), but at play on the page, poking the eye of convention with a sharp stick or break in punctuation.

Those allegories, slapped together, the seriously absurd full of murderous and circus-like mirrors, reflecting back on our dance from birth ("hello babies!") to the end of it all. All hail the sheer freshness of Vonnegut's putting 2 and 2 together, the bloody, crusty, age-old horror of the human predicament and the sing-songy innocence of nursery rhymes.

Vonnegut kept giving the muckety mucks the finger for all his readers (and the rest of us) who couldn't find such funny voices to say, as he did, 'not only no, but hell no.' He gave it to the establishment as best he could and then said, recently, "I've written books. Lots of them. Please, I've done everything I'm supposed to do. Can I go home now?"

Kurt Vonnegut died today in New York City. So it goes.

Love him. Read him. Read him again.

"The Man Without a Country" is a man we still need in this country and in this life, facing the future we're facing.


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