Sunday, September 18, 2005

Vonnegut: A Man Without a Country

Kurt Vonnegut's latest collection of essays (fortunately breaking his promise to never publish another book of new work) landed him a wonderful interview on Weekend Edition last week. (I can't get the audio link to work in Firefox, so this is the only time I'll advocate the use of IE.)

Courtney and I talked a lot over dinner about what happens when Vonnegut, 82, passes away. Saul Bellow died. Arthur Miller died. But damn, Vonnegut? Has there been a more important voice in the 20th century than Kurt Vonnegut? Will anyone else be able to weave the sort of cynical optimism that permeated KV books?

He's smoked at least a pack of unfiltered cigarettes every day since he was a kid. His NY apartment caught on fire a few years ago, and almost did him in then. Maybe he'll last twenty more years, but something seems ominous about this last book, and even this interview sounds like the near-last words of a man who has lived life to the end.

When the day comes, we'll all cry Goodbye, Blue Monday.

Update: Vonnegut on the Daily Show. And an article about how all these media appearances are making the book a bestseller.

Update 2
: Courtney is threatening to get a Vonnegut tattoo on her right bicep as such:
Heaven help me.

5 comments:

Pepper said...

Yeah, Courtney seems like that tattoo type.

Garrett said...

Dude, she's been threatening me with tattoos and new body piercings for as long as I can remember. When we met, she had a lip ring, a tongue ring, and a belly button ring. I danced a jig the day she took them all out on a whim that she now blames on me. So it goes.

J Hearne said...

I can thank you Garrett, for introducing me to Vonnegut, I believe. I owe you a debt of gratitude. Whenever he does die, it will be a sad day, indeed.

The Gunslinger said...

I'm not sure that we know each other, and if we do (and I do not remember), then I apologize. But I do, however, have what I believe to be important answers to questions you have posed...

"Has there been a more important voice in the 20th century than Kurt Vonnegut? Will anyone else be able to weave the sort of cynical optimism that permeated KV books?"

No. And no.

Kevin Swikert said...

Death will only make him stronger.

Yes! There are others who can write with that same cynical optimism. Just try the four young Italians who wrote the book 'Q' under the name Luther Blissett, good lord look at the entire culture behind the name Blissett (an actual english footballer).