Mighty Red Pen

April 12, 2007

Vonnegut

Filed under: Lit review,Pop culture — mighty red pen @ 1:04 pm

So Kurt Vonnegut has died. Moondog is pretty down about this and others agree.

David writes, “Vonnegut established a uniquely American literature of magical/science fiction realism which celebrated the ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances. At times both bitter and wry, his work often seemed calculated to make readers smile even at the most tragic of moments. Pushing the edges of acceptable subject matter and often engaging issues of contemporary concern, Vonnegut acted as both a critic and framer of a generation’s social awareness.”

What do you think? Like everyone else, I read Slaughterhouse Five in high school. I read Cat’s Cradle a few years ago, too. For me, the deceptively whimsical wackiness of Papa Monzano, Bokononism, and the karass, granfalloons, and wampeters stood in the way of the more serious messages the book was conveying. Mostly, the apocalyptic ice-nine stuff just creeped me out.

MRP is not dissing on Vonnegut, though, especially since I’ve only read two of his books. I’ve just always felt like I didn’t exactly get Vonnegut, like the joke was just out of reach for me. Have I just not read the right thing? Did Vonnegut touch you? Why or why not?

2 Comments »

  1. I was one of those who read “Slaughterhouse Five” in college, and was completely absorbed, but wouldn’t go back and read it now. I started several other books, finishing only “Galapagos,” finding him too quirky/silly. I agree, it did seem like a joke I wasn’t getting. Last year I read “Man without a Country,” a great essay and anti-Bush polemic, which I loved, but it seemed too much like my day job.

    Comment by Helen's Dad — April 18, 2007 @ 2:10 pm | Reply

  2. i met vonnegut when he was an artist-in-residence at Smith. he hosted a lunch for the anthro students, and showed up in a battered orange blazer with elbow patches, and seemed to be talking to himself most of the time. everyone was captivated by what he was saying, except me. seemed like they were all engrossed in a joke i didn’t get.

    Comment by aud — April 27, 2007 @ 9:18 pm | Reply


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