Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1922 — 2007)

Most of us remember Mr. Vonnegut from his landmark book, Slaughterhouse Five, which focuses on the bombing of Dresden during World War II, an event that he witnessed personally (one of 7 American's Dresden-located prisoner-of-war to survive).

His work can be described as "dark", but consider these personal experiences.
  • His mother committed suicide in 1958.

  • He was in the Army during WW II and became a prisoner-of-war.

  • He adopts 3 children (the good part) after his sister, Alice, dies of cancer the same week her husband is killed in a commuter train accident (the bad part).

  • His son, Mark (named after Mark Twain), has a major psychotic breakdown in the late 1960s.

  • The third floor of his home catches on fire (in 2000) and he is in critical condition for days (the bad part for him); in the fire, he looses most of his personal archives (the bad part for the rest of us).
I find it interesting that when he was in high school ( Shortridge High School, Indianapolis, Indiana), he worked on their daily newspaper, The Daily Echo. His words, his wisdom and his incite will forever echo in the United States. He will always be remembered.

I will end the way Kurt Vonnegut's official website put it, much more eloquently and simply than I could have stated myself:

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
1922 — 2007


Anonymous said...

I love Kurt Vonnegut. It's a sad day. I urge everyone to read his books.

Ian Lidster said...

I hadn't heard about Vonnegut, Leesa and, even though he was pretty aged, I am still shocked. Kurt's books were like sacred scripture back in my day-tripping fake hippie days, and I read 'em all.
Of his son, Mark Vonnegut, if you haven't read 'The Eden Express', it is a marvellous and frightening recounting of a psychic breakdown. Especially interesting to me in that the shrink ward he eventually ended up in was right here in my home town.
Thanks for this.


LarryLilly said...

During my teen years in the 60's of dark readings, Vonnegut, Hemingway, Tom Wolfe and a little sprinkling of Mad magazine kept me on the level, although very twisted path I called my teen years.

He will be missed

Add to that a great lovely lady named Molly Ivins that I just discovered these last 4 years (the lady who gave us Shrub, and used her numerous awards as trivets for tex mex dinners.

I haven't seen the current generation of writers rise to these levels. i suspect that the internet removes the truly great writers from the rest of us word butchering our way across the Ethernet.

Leesa said...

mrzhisou: he has a wonderful writing style and interesting books.

ian: I knew of Mark Vonnegut, and his The Eden Express. The subject-matter of his book has kept me away from it. I have always been afraid of being committed and not being able to get out of the inpatient mental facility.

larry: I have read Molly Ivins as well. She wrote in such a witty, folk-sy way and I did enjoy her. And if you like Molly Ivins, you may like Richard "Cactus" Pryor. He is not really an author (radio personality), but he writes essays.

RWA said...

I had not heard this either. The literary world has lost one of its greats.

JohnB said...

I first found out yesterday, when I kept hearing his name spoken in low tones across various conversations...there could have been only one explanation, and it's too bad it seems more like him leave than stay.

colleen said...

Great parting image! I hear Kurt V speak at Tech years ago. I enjoyed it but he's better writer than speaker. I also read his son's book about his breakdown (something with the word Eden in it). I didn't know his kids were adopted.