Kurt Vonnegut, 1922 – 2007

vonnegut1.jpgI had three different topics I was prepared to write about today. Politics in fiction. Good ways to provide information without dumping on the reader. Ways to keep your writing interesting and energetic for you. As I said, I was prepared to write about any of those today. I was not prepared to write about this.
Kurt Vonnegut passed away at the age of 84.
Damn.
I don’t rank my favorite writers. It’s like ranking flavors. Is chocolate really better than a fresh strawberry? Can you compare a really good wine to a great cup of coffee and say it’s “higher” on your list. They are unrankable, each unique and individual, and authors are even more so because they shift and change through their careers. The first and last books from a long writing career may only have the author’s name in common, but one cannot invalidate or validate their career, they are a part of that author’s flavor. For these reasons I don’t rank my favorites. But still, I have favorites.
Vonnegut is a favorite. He makes me want to write, and write well. He makes me want to write better. He makes me want to write something that matters and that entertains. He makes me think, and makes me want to keep thinking about the hard things that we go through. He makes me question what an author is and what an author can do. He makes jokes when in pain and evokes the cherished hurt of every emotion that makes life worth paying attention to. He was a writer that makes me want to do so much with my writing, to join in his conversation, to recognize what I think and feel and make them something that goes beyond words and into a deeper place, a place where language pushes against experience and for just a moment, almost actually IS the thing it’s trying to describe. He was important.
I passed him on the street, twice. Once in New York. Once in Boston. I was to scared to say anything.
The world is not a better place without him.
I will miss him. I will reread his books, and will miss him more.

5 thoughts on “Kurt Vonnegut, 1922 – 2007

  1. What a beautiful tribute to the man that was. This post makes me want to write better!
    I found you via Jaye, as I have the honor of being one of her favorite blogs (thanks Jaye). I can certainly see why she likes yours.
    A friend of mine, a lady in my writer’s group, wrote Vonnegut many years ago. She was horribly disappointed in one of his books, and resentful of her time (for reasons I won’t go into). She wrote him a spiteful letter, and he wrote her a reply that broke her heart. She showed it to me a month ago. Let’s just say her letter hurt his feelings, and he said so in no uncertain terms.

  2. Thanks for stopping by my site, and thanks for the nice comments about my Vonnegut tribute. To say that I was moved by his passing is an understatement. I feel like a friend has gone.
    Your story about your friend is also an important lesson in the power of all words. I can’t imagine how I would respond to a harsh letter from a reader. Probably curl into a little ball for about a week. I imagine that she thought she was yelling into the wind, never imagining that she was actually going to be heard.

  3. That’s a succinct way to put it. Indeed I do think she thought she was yelling into the wind, and was floored to get a reply, much less to find that she had affected him so.

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