Kurt Vonnegut was the first “serious” writer I ever really embraced on my own. Sure, I had read Dickens and Twain, but never really realized how serious they were, and Sinclair Lewis and Upton Sinclair had been foisted upon me in 11th grade, and Frank Norris, too.
But when I got to college and soon began trading books with my dorm mates, I soon found Vonnegut. I think I read all of the novels in a few weeks. Such was his work, that you could devour it quickly, and the consistency of voice, tone and subject matter (that some people criticize) would just envelop you in a sense that there were folks in the earlier generation who got it. (At the time, I didn’t realize that he was more in my grandfather’s generation than my parents.)
I think most people get pulled in by the humor, but for me it was the despairing humanity, the bleak view of our culture that resonated.
I love his curmudgeonliness. And that he never stopped being a pain in everyone’s ass. And, of course, I love Kilgore Trout. We all need to get more in touch with our alter egos.
I haven’t read Vonnegut in twenty years, but I think I’m going to reread Mother Night this weekend.
Happy Birthday, Me. And thank god for that curmudgeon.
So it goes.