WritersBeat.com
 

Go Back   WritersBeat.com > General Discussion > The Library

The Library Reviews and opinions on published writing: prose and poetry.


Vonnegut Dies At Age 84

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 04-12-2007, 03:37 AM
starrwriter's Avatar
starrwriter (Offline)
Verbosity Pales
Official Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Posts: 4,280
Thanks: 0
Thanks 4
Default Vonnegut Dies At Age 84


NEW YORK (AP) -- Kurt Vonnegut, the satirical novelist who captured the absurdity of war and questioned the advances of science in darkly humorous works such as "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Cat's Cradle," died Wednesday. He was 84.

Vonnegut, who often marveled that he had lived so long despite his lifelong smoking habit, had suffered brain injuries after a fall at his Manhattan home weeks ago, said his wife, photographer Jill Krementz.

The author of at least 19 novels, many of them best-sellers, as well as dozens of short stories, essays and plays, Vonnegut relished the role of a social critic. Indianapolis, his hometown, declared 2007 as "The Year of Vonnegut" -- an announcement he said left him "thunderstruck."

He lectured regularly, exhorting audiences to think for themselves and delighting in barbed commentary against the institutions he felt were dehumanizing people.

"I will say anything to be funny, often in the most horrible situations," Vonnegut once told a gathering of psychiatrists.

A self-described religious skeptic and freethinking humanist, Vonnegut used protagonists such as Billy Pilgrim and Eliot Rosewater as transparent vehicles for his points of view. He also filled his novels with satirical commentary and even drawings that were only loosely connected to the plot. In "Slaughterhouse-Five," he drew a headstone with the epitaph: "Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt."

Despite his commercial success, Vonnegut battled depression throughout his life, and in 1984, he attempted suicide with pills and alcohol, joking later about how he botched the job.

"I think he was a man who combined a wicked sense of humor and sort of steady moral compass, who was always sort of looking at the big picture of the things that were most important," said Joel Bleifuss, editor of In These Times magazine.

His mother killed herself just before he left for Germany during World War II, where he was quickly taken prisoner during the Battle of the Bulge. He was being held in Dresden when Allied bombs created a firestorm that killed an estimated tens of thousands of people.

"The firebombing of Dresden explains absolutely nothing about why I write what I write and what I am," Vonnegut wrote in "Fates Worse Than Death," his 1991 autobiography of sorts.

But he spent 23 years struggling to write about the ordeal, which he survived by huddling with other POW's inside an underground meat locker labeled slaughterhouse-five.

The novel, in which Pvt. Pilgrim is transported from Dresden by time-traveling aliens from the planet Tralfamadore, was published at the height of the Vietnam War, and solidified his reputation as an iconoclast.

Vonnegut was born on Nov. 11, 1922, in Indianapolis, a "fourth-generation German-American religious skeptic Freethinker," and studied chemistry at Cornell University before joining the Army.

When he returned, he reported for Chicago's City News Bureau, then did public relations for General Electric, a job he loathed. He wrote his first novel, "Player Piano," in 1951, followed by "The Sirens of Titan," "Canary in a Cat House" and "Mother Night," making ends meet by selling Saabs on Cape Cod.

Critics ignored him at first, then denigrated his deliberately bizarre stories and disjointed plots as haphazardly written science fiction. But his novels became cult classics, especially "Cat's Cradle" in 1963, in which scientists create "ice-nine," a crystal that turns water solid and destroys the earth.


Vonnegut's style of writing always seemed limited to me, but I read his books because I knew his heart was definitely in the right place and he had a penetrating sense of the absurdities of life.

Anyone else here a fan of his work?

__________________
"The earth was made round so we can't see too far down the road and know what is coming." -- Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 04-12-2007, 03:46 AM
piperdawn (Offline)
Word Wizard
Official Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Virginia
Posts: 549
Thanks: 0
Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
Default

Absolutely. I loved Breakfast of Champions and Slaughterhouse Five. Today's a sad day. Thanks for posting this.

Weird--I just checked Timequake by Vonnegut out of the library and noticed that he mentions dying at age 84. Strange.

Last edited by piperdawn; 04-12-2007 at 12:08 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 04-13-2007, 06:48 AM
dletus (Offline)
Copyist
Official Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Dunstable, UK
Posts: 44
Thanks: 0
Thanks 0
Default

Vonnegut's books always seem like the greatest thing ever when I read them, but nothing actually sticks in my brain and leaves a lasting impression.
I couldn't tell you what any of them were about two weeks after I read them, but everthing of his that I've read was enjoyable at the time.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 04-13-2007, 07:01 AM
josiehenley's Avatar
josiehenley (Offline)
Homer's Odyssey Was Nothing
Official Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Cardiff, in South Wales, UK
Posts: 1,120
Thanks: 0
Thanks 3
Default

I haven't heard of this writer but he sounds cool. I'm going to do a search for his books. Any you might recommend? Not if you've forgotten them of course, lol.
__________________
My novel Silence is out now!
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 04-13-2007, 07:28 AM
dletus (Offline)
Copyist
Official Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Dunstable, UK
Posts: 44
Thanks: 0
Thanks 0
Default

Slaughterhouse 5 is his most well known, so you might want to start there. I've not read it, so can't comment on it.

I have read Cat's Cradle, Jailbird, Hocus Pocus and possibly one other. Of those I would recommend Cat's Cradle as it is the only one I can remember anything about...lol.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 01-17-2008, 12:34 PM
RKurdt (Offline)
Let me introduce myself
New Author
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 6
Thanks: 0
Thanks 0
Default

Recently, I picked up "Welcome to the Monkey House." I love it. Terrible news to hear, though. But, at least I still have many of his books to read still.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 01-17-2008, 01:30 PM
Q Wands's Avatar
Q Wands (Offline)
a Ghaidhealtachd chridhe
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 8,489
Thanks: 208
Thanks 452
Default

Another fan here. Baleful day.
__________________
____

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Reply With Quote
Reply

  WritersBeat.com > General Discussion > The Library


Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Copper Thief Dies starrwriter Non-Fiction 5 03-28-2007 09:11 PM
"Man Dies In Mishap"-Revised-No Children Allowed JRT Fiction 3 10-16-2006 06:36 AM
Day that Thatcher dies. Johnny Too Bad Writers' Cafe 1 09-12-2006 09:37 AM


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:35 AM.

vBulletin, Copyright 2000-2006, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.