Friday, April 13, 2007

Shit, Kurt Vonnegut Died

There are remarkably few authors that have managed to snag my adoration. By adoration, I mean an unruly and logic-defying literary crush. I've had a few, and a small number of them have carried on into the present. Carl Sandburg, Walt Whitman, Dante Alighieri, Dylan Thomas, Hart Crane... hell, when I was very young, old Stephen King was in there. Kurt Vonnegut held a strong running in me.

Kurt Vonnegut was an author whose works I met, like many young writers, in a passing phase, but whose work, unlike other authors I read in that time period, stuck around in my head for some time. I read Slaughterhouse Five, Galapagos, Cat's Cradle, Breakfast of Champions, Mother Night, Deadeye Dick... about a dozen or so. I even read Sirens of Titan and that book of short stories, Welcome to the Monkey House. I've actually written poems based on imagery in my head that I somehow kept from reading his descriptions of Dresden's firebombing. I read his son's book, too, hoping to learn more about the author I couldn't know.

It somehow does bug me that I'm writing about him now that he's dead, because of it. It makes me feel like a phony asshole. I don't know if it's supposed to bug me when an author I've crushed on dies or not. It didn't bug me much when Bukowski died, or Burroughs, and it doesn't bug me that Vonnegut has. It seems appropriate, I suppose. Conclusion. End of book. Now we can watch our culture slowly boil all the flavor out of the books he wrote and footnote him in annotated textbooks and tribute anthologies, the occasional indie rock song that utilizes a term of his. Hey, that sounds dire, but it's not. It's the tragic stipend of having written, popularly. I was in love with Vonnegut's work for awhile, but it's difficult to discern from reading them if he enjoyed them as much as his readers.

Have a good one, Mr. Vonnegut. Thanks for being human, and for the books, as well.

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