Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, 1922-2007

My friend Michael Homer once asked me at a lecture given by Kurt Vonnegut at the University of South Carolina, "This guy is a communist and an atheist, and you're a conservative and a Christian, so why do you admire him so much?"

I admired his mind, and his astonishing ability as a storyteller, as a writer of science fiction.

A grad student, who identified herself as a literature major with aspirations to teach high school Lit, asked him, "What books should I include on my students' mandatory reading list?" He responded dryly, "If you don't know the answer to that question at this point in your education, you're in the wrong field."

In an article about literary style, Vonnegut railed against the use of the semi-colon (never use one) and preached writing simple, clear sentences in order to communicate.

He believed that society's ills were the result of the collapse of the extended family, and theorized that if the government were to reassign everyone in the country to an extended family, we would all be much better off. He was a believer in the love and support net an extended family provides for the individual.

He is among my three favorite novelists, along with Thomas Hardy and John Irving.

He wrote many books and stories. Many were very funny. He was a humanist, most of all, and though our philosophies and beliefs are quite different, he made me laugh, made me think, and inspired me to find worth in my fellow human beings.

1 comment:

Todd said...

And lets not forget his cameo in Rodney Dangerfield's, "Back to School."