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Kurt Vonnegut Has Become Unstuck In Time

At 84, the shadow that Kurt Vonnegut still cast over the literary landscape in America is profound and remarkable. His body of work may not be the largest... he leaves behind a total of 14 novels... but I would find it hard to name someone whose work had more influence in the second half of the 20th century. His first novel was PLAYER PIANO in 1952, but it was published under a different title at that point. THE SIRENS OF TITAN came next, followed at a fairly rapid clip by MOTHER NIGHT, CAT’S CRADLE, and GOD BLESS YOU, MR. ROSEWATER. His towering accomplishment as a novelist, though, came in 1969, when SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE was released. The story of Billy Pilgrim, a young man whose contact with aliens from the planet Trafalmadore leads to him becoming “unstuck in time”, is one of the most personal and moving things he ever wrote, a look at the way war debases and destroys the soul, and I’d argue it is one of the top 20 novels published in the English language. He was a great novelist, and his books were as much about the language of them as the stories, which is one reason I think his work so completely defied adaptation to film. When someone came close, we ended up with interesting films like George Roy Hill’s SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE or Keith Gordon’s MOTHER NIGHT. When it went wrong, though, we were treated to cinematic atrocities like Alan Rudolph’s flabbergasting BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS or the vile SLAPSTICK (OF ANOTHER KIND) starring Jerry Lewis and Madeline Kahn. I’m willing to bet that as heinous as these adaptations were, they must have amused Vonnegut on some level. He was profoundly pessimistic and had a distrust of humanity and even other artists that informed everything he did, and a terrible film adaptation of his work would just affirm his world view. He came by that world view honestly, though. He fought in World War II, including the Battle of the Bulge. This is a man who lived through the Dresden firebombing, an event so horrible that I can’t imagine it. It may be one of the reasons his fiction tended to create whole new worlds or whole new philosophies or whole new species of beings. He felt let down on some level by humanity, and he needed to escape us and our failings with what he wrote. In an early job, he was a police reporter, once more putting him face-to-face with some of mankind’s worst tendencies. “I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over,” he once said. “Out on the edge, you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.” His work definitely dealt with life on that edge, and his characters were frequently people at or just past their breaking points. “Humor is an almost physiological response to fear” was how he put it, and you can see that in his books and his articles and even in appearances he made. There was a wit and a play to his writing that kept him from ever seeming too bleak or too cynical. “Laugher and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterwards,” he wrote. The merit of his work was always hotly debated, and there were plenty of critics willing to completely dismiss him as glib and shallow, an author of slogans and one-liners rather than anything lasting or deep. I think he was not just a product of his era, though... he was one of the people who defined it. His first novel dealt with corporate life, something that was still a relatively new idea in 1952, and he savaged it with precision and clarity, getting it so right that it still feels fresh today. When he created The Church Of God Of the Utterly Indifferent for THE SIRENS OF TITAN, he seemed to be looking forward to the world we’ve inherited now, warning us of things that are now commonplace. He created an alternate identity in the form of Kilgore Trout, a science-fiction writer who is referred to in several of his books. At one point, Philip Jose Farmer actually published a novel as Trout, something that seemed to intrigue Vonnegut at first before he decided to be indignant about it. But that’s just how big his talent was, how much his ideas seemed to resonate with people. Farmer has always said that he wrote the novel, VENUS ON THE HALF-SHELL, because he wanted to pay tribute to the brilliance of Vonnegut’s creation. During the Vietnam war, one of the lines from SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE became a major slogan of the peace movement, originating with a section at the end of the book: “Robert Kennedy, whose summer home is eight miles from the home I live in all year round, was shot two nights ago. He died last night. So it goes. Martin Luther King was shot a month ago. He died, too. So it goes. And every day my Government gives me a count of corpses created by military science in Vietnam. So it goes.” The phrase is simply what the Tralfalmadorans say whenever someone dies. It is a constant echo through the book. Some people saw “so it goes” as a statement of acceptance, but there was a dark period where Vonnegut seemed to believe it was an admission of defeat. He retired from writing novels for a time, and he even tried to kill himself in the mid ‘80s. Yet something always pushed him back into writing, and he published his last novel in 1997, with a collection of essays and poems in 2005. I’m going to go out to the garage after I publish this obituary, and I’m going to dig through all the boxes of books that I never unpacked after my move, and I’m going to find my dog-eared copies of his novels and dig through to enjoy some of my favorite bits and pieces. If you don’t already know his work, I urge you to celebrate his passing by picking up CAT’S CRADLE or HOCUS POCUS or TIMEQUAKE or GALAPAGOS or WELCOME TO THE MONKEY-HOUSE. Let his sardonic words wash over you. He’s not to everyone’s taste, admittedly, but he was a man of ideas, and there are too few of those today. I’ve never understood the people who worked up a real head of steam when dismissing his work. As he once wrote, “Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.” I’m sure his work will survive as long as we continue to read 20th Century literature, and as long as there is authority to question, humanity to decipher, or souls to understand. Kurt Vonnegut is dead at the age of 84. So it goes. So it goes.

Drew McWeeny, Los Angeles

Readers Talkback
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  • April 11, 2007, 11:44 p.m. CST

    Damn. Just...damn.

    by filmicdrummer17

    Slaughterhouse is one of my all-time favorite books. Seems like just yesterday he was in that Mastercard commercial.

  • April 11, 2007, 11:45 p.m. CST

    nicely done.

    by Zakari Paolon

    Good books indeed.

  • April 11, 2007, 11:48 p.m. CST

    "and *another* thing, Vonnegut!"

    by Han Ol' Buddy

    "I'm gonna stop payment on the cheque!" "Fuck me? Hey, Kurt, can you read lips, FUCK YOU! Next time I'll call Robert Ludlum!" Best cameo ever... "Free bag of Ice-9 with 6-pack"

  • April 11, 2007, 11:50 p.m. CST

    Who is Kilgore Trout?

    by jrbarker

    I liked Breakfast of Champions RIP

  • April 11, 2007, 11:50 p.m. CST

    This is not how I wanted to end my Wedsnesday.

    by CaptainWalker

    I don't like a world without Kurt. He will be missed. It's just a little bit less wry now.

  • April 11, 2007, 11:53 p.m. CST

    Oh my God

    by QuinnTheEskimo

    I'm so sad now. Seriously my favorite author ever. There has never been and there will never be anything like Kurt Vonnegut. No other author has impacted my life as much as he has.<p>Damn. Just, just damn.

  • April 11, 2007, 11:54 p.m. CST

    Don't forget one of the Great Movie Cameos...

    by ErnieAnderson

    ...playing himself in BACK TO SCHOOL. Sheer genius.

  • April 11, 2007, 11:54 p.m. CST


    by FakeTHulce

    For the memories

  • April 11, 2007, 11:55 p.m. CST

    Lonesome no more.


    Thank you, Kurt*.

  • April 11, 2007, 11:57 p.m. CST

    Really good job, Moriarty

    by underscore_only

    Fuck, this is sad. I'm gonna have to re-read some of his works.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:03 a.m. CST


    by charlesgrodinsux

    I still can't believe it. I called my girlfriend at 1 am to wake her up and tell her. It's pretty sad. I wish I could have had just ONE more book.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:04 a.m. CST


    by Darth Thoth

    I had no idea when I clicked upon the story link that this was an obit. Wow. Man. I'm definitely stunned b/c I had heard nothing of his passing. His work will most certainly live on as it continues to affect to this day. God bless his soul and may he rest in peace. Thank you for the excellent obit Moriarty. Peace.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:06 a.m. CST

    This is unbelievably depressing...

    by mr_macphisto

    I honestly don't know what to say. Wow. This really ruins my week...I just bought Hocus Pocus over the Easter break. Just wow.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:07 a.m. CST

    Damn...just damn

    by heavenlykid

    Critics dismissed him as flip, but I also wonder if they were just annoyed at the fact that he managed to make classic novels that people actually wanted to 'read' instead of just 'have read'. I wish I hadn't loaned out my copy of slaughterhouse five all those years ago, now I have to track down a new one.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:08 a.m. CST

    Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.

    by QuinnTheEskimo

    If only this could've been true.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:10 a.m. CST


    by GiveMeAnFinBreak

    I've been on a huge Vonnegut kick for the last couple of weeks. Just out of the blue. Now, this. The world just got a lot less interesting.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:10 a.m. CST

    God Bless you Mr Vonegut

    by catman

    And so it goes.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:12 a.m. CST


    by NotchJohnson

    Roscoe Lee Brown just died at 81. This actor is well-known to anyone over 30. I remember him from TV, including "Good Times" and "All in the Family". One of his best roles? The big promoter in "The Mambo Kings"....."Sign with me, mi amigo, and your future is gold."

  • April 12, 2007, 12:13 a.m. CST

    Ptowoo Tweep?

    by Maceox

    Love the little bird in SH5 and Cat's that flys by as man kind fucks up big time and he asks a question in birdesse. I always thought a good translation would be, "So you people fucked up the beuaty of the world huh?" Well as a Bokonist would say, I am glad I am the type of mud that got to sit up and read books by other interesting muds that sit up, especially Kurt. Goodbye Blue Monday.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:17 a.m. CST

    Damn. Just damn.

    by 24200124

    "Slaugherhouse-Five" and "Breakfast of Champions" were among some of my favorite books as a teenager. Even though we haven't heard much from him in a while, he'll still be missed greatly. Farewell.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:19 a.m. CST

    One of my favorites

    by om8ga

    This was a great article. Kurt Vonnegut has been one of my favorite authors since my high school freshman English teacher recommended I read The Sirens of Titan and I always wanted to meet him. There was always a hope for another book, but we will make do with the masterpieces he has left us. I recently finished Hocus Pocus back at the end of last year and it was absolutely hilarious. I've currently been rereading Slapstick. Hi ho.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:21 a.m. CST

    He was brilliant.

    by kevred

    I especially enjoyed his non-fiction--he's written so many brilliant essays over the years. (I think the most recent collection is 'Man Without A Country', which I heartily recommend.) As they say, we'll not soon see his like again. Rest in peace, Mr. Vonnegut.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:22 a.m. CST

    Out of the Monkey House

    by Napoleon Park

    Writer Kurt Vonnegut Jr., 84, has passed away of complications resulting from brain damage due to a fall. Normally my tendency to crack nervous jokes in these obituaries is in questionable taste, but it does seem in keeping with Vonnegut's own dark humor. At IMDb's listing for Kurt Vonnegut's credits, in the chat section the top thread declares him "America's greatest living author". Sadly, not anymore. And somehow it seems weirdly appropriate that such a genius would be killed by his own brain. I read some Vonnegut - not all of it - and enjoyed what I read. His career did touch onn one of my personal pet peeves. Authors who begin as science-fiction writers and achieve such a level or acclaim and fame that even though they still continue writing about time travel and other genre topics, their work is elevated to the level or 'literature' and 'fine art'. As if 'science fiction' can't possibly be good enough for those accolades. My first encounter with his work was when I read his short story "Welcome To The Monkey House" when it appeared in an issue of Playboy magazine. What caught my attention was a minor error of fact; a key moment in the story - as well as the monkey house of the title - is set at "The Grand Rapids Zoo". The zoo in Grand Rapids is actually named the John Ball Park Zoo, and at the time the story was writing it had a monkey island, but no monkey house. (There were facilities for housing the monkeys during the winter months, but they were not accessible to the public.) I was 19 when the 1972 film of "Slaughterhouse Five" came out, so at the time I appreciated it more for Valerie Perrine's exuberant debut as Montana Wildhack and the grim detail about triangular-bladed bayonets causing a three-sided wound that won't close than for the complex and thought provoking plot. I never clearly understood why such a critically acclaimed and successful author would suffer from such dark depressions, but apparently he had a long, complicated and troubling life. Kurt Vonnegut, hopefully now resting peacefully.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:22 a.m. CST

    great loss

    by WolfmanNards

    we were given the privelage to live in the presence of a genius for 84 years.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:27 a.m. CST

    It may be an old time expression

    by skimn

    but Kurt was one of the great rabblerousers. He truly knew how to shake things up. My heart dropped when I read the news. Moriarty, beautiful sentiments. Peace to you, sir.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:38 a.m. CST

    I remember watching him on the Daily Show...

    by Forestal

    About a year ago or so. Very insightful guy. He was funny too. He had such a fucked up way at looking at the world...and I say that in a good way.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:42 a.m. CST

    I'm really having a hard time getting over this

    by QuinnTheEskimo

    It's so sad and depressing, yet at the same time it's fitting. He's a man who obviously didn't enjoy his life. God bless you, Mr. Vonnegut. You'll always be alive in those moments passed, for the Tralfamadorians to see, even if we can't.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:45 a.m. CST


    by beatnikslacker

    what a horrible way to end the day. one less "true" voice in the world tonight. color me depressed

  • April 12, 2007, 12:50 a.m. CST

    I am really choked up right now.

    by Traumnovelle

    Kurt Vonnegut changed my life. He reminded me that reading is the cats pajamas, and he pulled me out of a hefty rut I was in at the time. I cant think of anything else to type about this. God bless you Mr. Vonnegut. Rest in power.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:53 a.m. CST

    A Satire-Writing Machine broke down

    by IForgotAbout19

    Vonnegut was brilliant. A god. Big hero of mine. He will be missed. And so on.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:56 a.m. CST


    by electroaddict

    I don't even know what to say. Kurt was one of my favorite authors, and while I knew he was old and essentially on death's door, I still knew the day he'd pass would be a sad one, regardless of any "full life" he lived. The world lost a great, GREAT author today, and earth (hell, the UNIVERSE) is a darker place without him. "GREETINGS."

  • April 12, 2007, 12:56 a.m. CST


    by dino_hardbody

    oh well. he was an amazing writer. Used to love him in high school. I'm gonna go find Hocus Pocus. I think that was the first one I read. Good Luck Mr. Vonnegut.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:58 a.m. CST

    I read Hocus Pocus in high school...

    by slder78

    I felt real proud of myself afterwards, like I just read something from an important writer. I haven't felt that way since.

  • April 12, 2007, 1:05 a.m. CST

    Beautiful Human Being

    by 12-GAUGE

    He endured a lot of pain in his personal life, and what does he do? He turns right around and gives us books filled with hope and life-affirming humor. But he was never afraid to critique society, either, in a simple, perfect way. Right alongside Mark Twain, Will Rogers and other legends of the American spirit. This is truly sad, but thankfully he left us with so much.

  • April 12, 2007, 1:11 a.m. CST

    Sad day

    by ThirteenthMonkey

    Goodbye, Blue Monday. We will miss you. "Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why." oh, and here's something Mr V. said that some of you should consider when bitching about the flames on Optimus or or the 'boring' dialogue in DP, "Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae."

  • April 12, 2007, 1:16 a.m. CST

    Vonnegut was brilliant

    by QuinnTheEskimo

    "Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies - 'God damn it, you've got to be kind.'"

  • April 12, 2007, 1:17 a.m. CST

    An unimaginable loss....

    by Iblis_mage

    We are much better for having had Mr. Vonnegut here, and far, far poorer for having lost him. That goes for the redoubtable Roscoe Lee Browne as well.

  • April 12, 2007, 1:21 a.m. CST


    by oisin5199

    What the hell does Cronenberg's film of William Burroughs' novel have to do with Vonnegut?

  • April 12, 2007, 1:22 a.m. CST

    Sad to here

    by OswaldWasAPussy

    I read a couple of his books in high school, they were interesting but didn't blow me away. But anyone who people describe as a living literary treasure having the balls to do that scene in Back to School can't be to bad a guy.

  • April 12, 2007, 1:23 a.m. CST

    Too soon

    by Hercules

    I must say I think the film version of "Slaughterhouse Five" is one of the best movies I've ever seen. <br><br>See it with an audience if you're ever given the opportunity.

  • April 12, 2007, 1:23 a.m. CST


    by OswaldWasAPussy

    Whether you are a tool or an ironic tool, it still remains that you are a tool.

  • April 12, 2007, 1:31 a.m. CST

    So True

    by Rebeck2

    I agree with everything everyone has said. He wrote books that were packed with interesting thoughts and observations, that were wildly entertaining and funny, but also deadly serious and extremely profound. He was, without a doubt, a genius. There was never another author quite like him. A couple years ago a mutual friend got him to sign the anniversary edition of "Slaughterhouse-5" (his masterpiece, IMO) for me and I've been keeping it in a plastic baggie ever since. I just took it out... All it says is "For Frank" and that wild signature of his that looks suspiciously like pop art. Wow. I will treasure this book now more than ever. If you don't know Vonnegut, do yourself a favor and read him. He has many great quotes, but he was famous for saying this: "We were put on this world to fart around, don't let anyone tell you different."

  • April 12, 2007, 1:32 a.m. CST


    by maluquiro

    "No wonder kids grow up crazy. A cat's cradle is nothing but a bunch of X's between somebody's hands, and little kids look and look and look at all those X's..." "And?" "No damn cat, and no damn cradle."

  • April 12, 2007, 1:33 a.m. CST

    I got to meet Vonnegut at a lecture about 7 years ago.

    by Barry Egan

    So far in my adult life it has been the most important meeting I have had with a famous person, the first time I have had the chance to meet an artist whose work was really special and important to me. I found Vonnegut to be a really nice and warm person and I didn't expect that based on his body of work. I still have the 45th anniversary edition of Slaughterhouse that he signed for me that day. I would argue with Mori that Slaughterhouse-Five is better than top 20 and it may be the best book written about World War II. I would implore the readers in the talk back (especially the younger ones) to pick up something by Vonnegut at the book store or a library tomorrow and enjoy his excellent work.

  • April 12, 2007, 1:34 a.m. CST

    My 1st Vonnegut exposure? "Happy Birthday, Wanda June"

    by FilmCritic3000

    I was in middle school and they actually had the play in our school library. The book it was in also had pictures of the Broadway cast. It's such a quirky, off-center, and terrific play, and I'm surprised we had it. Of course, I then moved on to "Slaughterhouse Five". I have others to catch up on as well. R.I.P. Mr. Vonnegut. I've shed a tear, one of several, for you tonight, good sir. You are an American icon and your words are legend.

  • April 12, 2007, 1:37 a.m. CST

    Yes, Great Movie

    by Rebeck2

    I agree, Herc. Extremely underrated film. George Roy Hill knocked that one out of the park and it was NOT an easy thing to adapt. Also, re: Roscoe Lee Browne was fantastic in one of my all-time favorite movies, "The Cowboys". Anyone who's seen it, remember this? "Forgive me for all the men I have killed, and for all the men I'm about to". Classic line, perfect delivery.

  • April 12, 2007, 1:56 a.m. CST


    by Rebeck2

    “I am a humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without any expectation of rewards or punishments after I’m dead.” – Kurt Vonnegut

  • April 12, 2007, 1:59 a.m. CST

    “God himself has no right

    by Rebeck2

    “God himself has no right to be a tyrant.” – Kurt Vonnegut

  • April 12, 2007, 2 a.m. CST

    “Life is no way to treat

    by Rebeck2

    “Life is no way to treat an animal.” – Kilgore Trout (Kurt Vonnegut)

  • April 12, 2007, 2:01 a.m. CST

    pour some on the curb for my man

    by Lil LoLo

    while i don't think i would put any of his novels in my top twenty, his stories defintely blew my mind when i first picked them up. he left a legacy behind and all i can do is thank him, even if it is too late to do so. kurt vonnegut is dead, long live kurt vonnegut.

  • April 12, 2007, 2:02 a.m. CST

    And His Last Word On The Subject

    by Rebeck2

    “I feel embarrassed to have lived to the age of 83. It’s in terrible taste. I had a fire several years ago, and it would have been so shapely if I’d died in that – but here I am.” – Kurt Vonnegut

  • April 12, 2007, 2:03 a.m. CST

    'Mother Night'...

    by Negator76

    Mother Night is a GREAT fucking movie, not just an 'interesting' one. I don't know how it compares to the book (only Vonnegut I've read is 'Cat's Cradle'... Loved it), but as a movie, it's terrifically funny and heartbreaking, as any true-blue satire should be. PS: 'Fuck me? Hey Kurt, do you read lips? FUCK YOU!' ... For dying. You will be missed.

  • April 12, 2007, 2:07 a.m. CST

    I was in grindhouse

    by s0nicdeathmonkey

    when i found out. damn near ruined my night. My mother introduced me to Vonnegut when I was in 6th grade. she handed me her 40 year old copy of "breakfast of champions" from it's first paperback printing. I put off reading it, my mother was never someone i thought of as "hip" and I was already into Camus and Kafka at the time. but then i picked it up on a whim and read it in 2 sittings. i only stopped to sleep. Vonnegut, more than almost anyone else shaped my world view at that young age. I'm named after Hunter S. Thompson, so that was hard...but this is almost unbearable.

  • April 12, 2007, 2:24 a.m. CST

    bad times

    by Tbuel

    kurt was a good fellow. im sad about his passing

  • April 12, 2007, 2:33 a.m. CST

    RIP / Nice job Moriarty

    by TheDohDoh

    This man had a mind like no other. His brilliance was scary, on par with Kubrick in my opinion. I'm not sure I'd ever want to pull a Being John Malkovich and take a peek (I'm betting it's still sparking right now), but nobody ever made "humanity is a disease" go down with such a big laugh and an absurdity chaser. RIP Mr. Vonnegut. You lived it out without doing yourself in, and we are all grateful. The great minds are dying and I'm scared of where the lesser ones will take us from here. Moriarty, that was an impeccable obit. You are a fantastic writer who works under short deadlines when called upon. Your mix of first-person experience with Vonnegut's work and sincerity, I doubt I'd ever want to read something comparable in the NY Times or the New Yorker. Thank you for that. I needed that.

  • April 12, 2007, 2:58 a.m. CST

    Oh Shit...

    by godoffireinhell

    I just read THE SIRENS OF TITAN last month. Brilliant novel. Brilliant writer. He'll be remembered.

  • April 12, 2007, 3:19 a.m. CST


    by drew mcweeny

    ... it's also easy to make baseless accusations when you hide behind anonymity. I didn't read the NYT obit or any other. Vonnegut is one of the most important influences on me as a young reader, from the moment my uncle handed me a copy of BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS. I'm not going to insult you back, but you're wrong.

  • April 12, 2007, 3:54 a.m. CST

    A bit of respect please

    by palimpsest

    Let's leave the name-calling, accusations and general hating for another time. Thanks for running the obit - mebbe it'll push a curious fanboy or girl towards a bookstore. RIP Father Kurt.

  • April 12, 2007, 4:01 a.m. CST

    Kurt is in Heaven now...

    by V'Shael

    So it goes.

  • April 12, 2007, 4:02 a.m. CST

    So say we all:

    by newc0253

    oh wait, wrong phrase. So it goes.

  • April 12, 2007, 4:11 a.m. CST

    One last thing to honour the floating rock

    by Moon Mc Creery

    There are two or three things we could do as a species to thanks this piece of floating rock for nurturing us, and all of those things involve us dessapearing in the end. We could have done it nicely, and that would have been graceful and clever, but again as humans we aren't those things. We believe in prophets that take us to doom without even have the common decency to not take all the inferior (meaning: graceful and clever)creatures along for a ride they aren't even aware of. And the floating rock isn't aware of anything exept for the fact that floating in circles trough space is such a nice sensation. So here comes my idea for this recently born century of another hundred fake dooms: make one for real. Honour and respect the floating rock by make the final giant leap trough this agonizing atmosphere of us. It is time for all the nations to unite and put their resources together in the latest, greatest enterprise of mankind: to put all mankind, together at the same time in the great void of space, and as a final greeting to the floating rock, to feel what the rock feels with our collective final breath.

  • April 12, 2007, 4:18 a.m. CST

    More Vonnegut Quotes

    by drew mcweeny

    "True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country."

  • April 12, 2007, 4:23 a.m. CST


    by drew mcweeny

    "Some jerk infected the Internet with an outright lie. It shows how easy it is to do and how credulous people are."

  • April 12, 2007, 4:34 a.m. CST

    And Another

    by drew mcweeny

    "High School is closer to the core of the American experience than anything else I can think of."

  • April 12, 2007, 4:47 a.m. CST

    Beautiful obituary, Moriarty.

    by raw_bean

    I'd been meaning to pick up some Kurt Vonnegut for a while, but you just inspired me to do it post-haste. He really seemed to have inspired you, not least in this eloquent and moving piece here, and I'm really sorry he's passed, even though I'm not (yet) a fan.

  • April 12, 2007, 4:52 a.m. CST

    An American treasure

    by MonkeyBytes

    Vonnegut was like a spotlight shining on all of us, illuminating the warts and all. His characters seem insane because sanity is so fragile, a state that many times takes great effort and to maintain. Vonneguts passing is sad not because he didn't lead a full and productive life, but because I heard him interviewed a while back and he seemed to be energized by the current state of the world. New tyranny meant new targets, but I guess the satire will be left to someone else. Happy Trails, Kurt.

  • April 12, 2007, 5:18 a.m. CST

    This is a sad day

    by grypson

    "A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved." - Kurt Vonnegut

  • April 12, 2007, 5:19 a.m. CST


    by Uncle Stan


  • April 12, 2007, 5:45 a.m. CST

    This is a picture of me sad

    by Kloipy

    Kurt Vonnegut also influenced me growing up with his dark satire. Just so fitting for the world we live in today. Hocus Pocus def. captured that. He will be so missed, and i'm so upset that his voice won't be heard again.

  • April 12, 2007, 5:51 a.m. CST


    by dundundles


  • April 12, 2007, 5:53 a.m. CST

    By FAR the WORST news I've heard since Douglas Adams...

    by Negative Man

    ...passed before his time, yet I have to ask, what the Hell was time to him? And I say that with a wink and a smile. I really have no words. No idea how to some up such a loss. His words made me feel old and young. An infant and on the verge of the ever-after. And in both, laying on my back and staring up at infinity as I was cradled with care and understanding. Cynicsism blended with a fresh brew of hope and enlightenment poured by a master writer that always had a twinkle in his eye. God will bless Kurt, but God will wait to see how he writes it.

  • April 12, 2007, 6:10 a.m. CST


    by NudeandAroused

    A true genius in every sense of the word.

  • April 12, 2007, 6:15 a.m. CST

    great line

    by Kloipy

    "Just because we can read and write and do a little arithmatic, doesn't mean that we should rule the world"

  • April 12, 2007, 6:21 a.m. CST


    by robotdevil

    One of the great authors of all time.

  • April 12, 2007, 6:30 a.m. CST

    Thanks Mori

    by Kloipy

    you did an excellent job caputuring the man. My mom started me off with "Breakfast" as well. I was probably 10 or 11 at the time, and I remember being blown away by it and then rushing out to read as much of his work as I could. There will never be another Vonnegut. Not even close

  • April 12, 2007, 7:01 a.m. CST

    Sad sad day

    by Ashen Shugar

    My favorite american author died. Here in France he was not very famous. But Cat's cradle is absolutely fantastic. I never read something as funny and deep. Slaughterhouse 5 was very difficult to understand in English for a foreigner, very hard to follow. I remember one funny quote about how Americans were easy to recognize as they loved to collect small useless things from grocery stores. Or something like that. Palahniuk and a few others owe him a lot. Now Vonnegut's up here watching for us. I hope to get up the highest mountain, put myself on my back, raise my index finger with a smile and.. you know the end.

  • April 12, 2007, 7:11 a.m. CST

    now im curious

    by the_shogun_gunslinger

    think im gonna have to hit up the bookstore later and give his stuff i try. i used to read like a fiend growing up but now a good book is few and far between for me. sounds like something ill enjoy. btw, SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE is the coolest sounding title ive ever heared.

  • April 12, 2007, 7:18 a.m. CST

    A note to Book Store Workers

    by Kloipy

    I've gone in, many times searching for Vonnegut books, esp. when I had to re-buy "Hocus Pocus" and from more than one worker I've gotten the response "Isn't that about those witches?" If can't recognize a great writer such as Vonnegut, don't work at a fucking book store

  • April 12, 2007, 7:21 a.m. CST

    Very well worded obit

    by ATARI

    Thanks Mori, so it goes, indeed.

  • April 12, 2007, 7:32 a.m. CST

    Sad day

    by Pardon_My_Zinger

    I'm on my way to work so unfortunately I don't have time (now) to give this story the justice it deserves... just to say that he was my favorite author and this is a truly, truly sad day.

  • April 12, 2007, 7:37 a.m. CST

    btw Kloipy

    by Pardon_My_Zinger

    1) I DO work in a bookstore. 2) I would never make that very stupid mistake you just described, as "Hocus Pocus" is one of my favorite Vonnegut novels. However, in all fairness, I HAVE found that in describing the book to people who aren't familiar with it, I have to offer the disclaimer: "It has nothing to do with the witch movie with Bette Midler."

  • April 12, 2007, 7:42 a.m. CST

    Rest in peace you wonderful, wonderful man.

    by beastie

    I clicked on this story dreading reading about another attempt to make Slaughterhouse Five. What I read was so much more depressing.</p><p> Kurt, you will be missed. Thank you for the beautiful legacy that you left behind.

  • April 12, 2007, 7:46 a.m. CST

    Sad times indeed, it comes

    by indyjonez100

    Sad times indeed, it comes in threes doesn't it? I sure hope not. RIP Kurt

  • April 12, 2007, 7:48 a.m. CST

    Roscoe Lee Browne died as well

    by chrth


  • April 12, 2007, 7:49 a.m. CST

    What's sad to me

    by Kloipy

    is that we've wasted how many weeks discussing Anna Nicole Smith's death, and probably 3/4 of american's won't even know who Vonnegut was. It makes me sick

  • April 12, 2007, 7:51 a.m. CST

    Only three celebrity deaths I've cried over

    by k.-

    Jim Henson, Douglas Adams, and now Kurt Vonnegut. Slaughterhouse Five was such an incredible book, the literary equivalent of being kicked in the stomach over and over again. Definitely the best book I've ever read. Moriarty, thanks for the wonderful obit. You did him justice.

  • April 12, 2007, 7:57 a.m. CST

    A goddamned tragedy.

    by Zarles

    I have a lot of writing to do today, so I'll do it for him. Much respect. 'Long Walk To Nowhere' from 'Monkey House' should be inscribed on the surface of the moon in 100-foot-high letters. Absolutely gorgeous...

  • April 12, 2007, 8:02 a.m. CST

    Hi Ho

    by BigFo

    Wow...I must say I am a different person than I would have been if I had never read one of Kurt's novels. The loss of a true Hero. Nice obit Mori.

  • April 12, 2007, 8:04 a.m. CST

    RIP, Mr. Vonnegut...

    by KillDozer

    and thanks for sharing your talent with the rest of us.

  • April 12, 2007, 8:08 a.m. CST

    What is really unfortunate

    by Kloipy

    is that books, as a medium, are going the way of the dodo. I think by the time our children are grown they will be fading. Most people don't seem to enjoy the imagination and magic of just reading anymore. And it's sad. There is so much that I got out of reading, Vonnegut esp., have helped to mold the way that I am today. We want everything to be right in our face telling us what to think that reading is foriegn to most. Let's try to keep Mr. Vonnegut alive.

  • April 12, 2007, 8:09 a.m. CST

    And another thing, Vonnegut, I'm stopping payment on

    by chrth

    that check! RIP

  • April 12, 2007, 8:14 a.m. CST

    That's too bad :(

    by Right Bastard

    One of my favorite authors.

  • April 12, 2007, 8:22 a.m. CST


    by rolo_tony

    crying talkbackers = flaming nipples on iron man

  • April 12, 2007, 8:22 a.m. CST

    I think Kloipy's losing it in his grief

    by chrth

    How many books has Harry Potter sold? Kids are still reading, dude. And my kid (less than a month!) will get a shot at K.V. in fifteen years or so as well.

  • April 12, 2007, 8:22 a.m. CST

    Rudolph's Breakfast

    by The Cabin Boy

    I guess I'm the only one who enjoyed the film adaptation of Breakfast of Champions, eh? Nolte cracked me up in that one. And who could be a better Kilgore than Albert Finney? Lucas Haas as Bunny... Even Bruce had some good moments. I don't know -- it had that manic energy that I felt with Fear and Loathing. Granted I haven't seen this in a while but I felt it was a good tribute.

  • April 12, 2007, 8:30 a.m. CST

    that's true that they do read HP

    by Kloipy

    Which is a good start and all. I just worry because most of the people I've talked to, who are in their 20's, can tell you all about any show on "MTV" but think that "To Kill a Mocking Bird" is an instruction manual

  • April 12, 2007, 8:38 a.m. CST

    wonderful obit and my experience w/ mr. V

    by darthnoodle

    hi mori, thanks for that fantastic obit. probably one of the best and most heartfelt i've ever read. i met mr. V at a book signing for Timequake and the B&N in union square when that book was released. his "people" said that he would only be signing timequake and we were all very disappointed. not 5 minutes earlier i purchased a copy of the 25th anniversary edition of slaughterhouse five. i stood in line patiently w/ my two books and when it came my turn i slid both books up to him and asked him to sign them. his "person" told me that was very rude (what does he expect from a true new yorker in new york!!??). mr. V looked at me and said "give me the damn book!." so i did and got both timequake and S 5 signed. my most precious memory of the man. we'll miss you Kurt.

  • April 12, 2007, 8:56 a.m. CST

    A true original and a literary genius

    by gboybama

    I wish I could have known him.

  • April 12, 2007, 8:57 a.m. CST

    I think he was okay with going

    by Fecal Debris

    But he was cool during his visit with us.

  • April 12, 2007, 8:58 a.m. CST

    One of the greatest influences on my life has left...

    by Childe Roland

    ...and while the world is certainly a poorer place without him, it is richer for having had him in it for any amount of time.

  • April 12, 2007, 9:07 a.m. CST

    Another great Vonnegut moment

    by Maceox

    Tiger gotta hunt Birds Gotta Fly Man gotta ask himself why why why Tiger gotta sleep Bird Gotta land Man gotta tell himself he understand

  • April 12, 2007, 9:11 a.m. CST

    Life is no way to treat an animal...

    by Mooly

    The final words from Sirens of Titan (a favorite of mine) have always stuck with me. Excuse me if I misquote the phrase. "The worst thing that can happen to a person, is to never be used for anything by anyone."

  • April 12, 2007, 9:13 a.m. CST

    ive only read

    by sHapesHiftinLizard

    Slaughterhouse 5 a long time ago. Should get round to reading more of him. R.I.P Kurt Vonnegut

  • April 12, 2007, 9:22 a.m. CST

    "And *another* thing Vonnegut...."

    by uss cygnus

    Arguably, the most surreal cameo in history, next to Stephen Hawking on ST:TNG. And definitely the funniest.

  • April 12, 2007, 9:26 a.m. CST

    Bartleby, The Scrivener was published in 1863

    by don_gately

    and is as fine a skewering of the dehumanizing of corporate culture written. Plenty of similar literature in Victoriana. Not a recent development in 1952.

  • April 12, 2007, 9:28 a.m. CST

    Sirens of Titan bummed me out

    by chrth

    I can't believe the dude got separated from his dog. I hope he catches up.

  • April 12, 2007, 9:59 a.m. CST

    Perfect Headline

    by symon

    "He's up in heaven now." -- As Kurt Vonnegut said of Isaac Asimov in his eulogy.

  • April 12, 2007, 10 a.m. CST

    Very well said, Moriarty

    by pilotgrl

    You should consider writing as a profession (just kidding). This is sad news. I might just go back and re-read some of his books...

  • April 12, 2007, 11 a.m. CST

    At least his son, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. lives on

    by ETI

    Oh, wait.

  • April 12, 2007, 11:28 a.m. CST

    God Bless You Mr. Rosewater

    by kinghenryVIII

    I think that's the title. That's the first book I've read. Then Breakfast but my fav is Mothernight. Scary shit! RIP!

  • April 12, 2007, 11:31 a.m. CST

    I feel dumb for not having read any of his novels

    by Rupee88

    Instead I sit and goof off...sad.

  • April 12, 2007, 11:46 a.m. CST

    "Only three celebrity deaths I've cried over"

    by feckdrinkarse

    Dude, what about Kurt Cobain ? Aqua seafoam shame

  • April 12, 2007, 11:56 a.m. CST

    "We are what we pretend to be,...

    by rbatty024

    so we must be careful what we pretend to be." He truly was the 20th century's Mark Twain. "So it goes."

  • April 12, 2007, 11:58 a.m. CST

    Greatest Living American Writer now dead

    by Dr Dischord

    Favorite novel: Mother Night.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:02 p.m. CST

    He's Gonnegut...

    by ETI

    ...but not fogottennegut.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:03 p.m. CST

    What a shame! I saw him only last year at OSU.

    by Proman1984

    He seemed like a great funny guy an d great writer. He will be missed and remembered.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:09 p.m. CST

    bacci40, you're an idiot

    by Mr. Neutron

    This is a thread to honor a great writer, and you have to insert your dime-store politics. What is it with the death wishes so many on the left heap on the right? It's a one-way fetish as well. Get some help.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:13 p.m. CST

    Fuck Bryan Fuller

    by Rumple Tumskin

    Don't you DARE pull him off Heroes to write for this cheesy SCFI Channel crap. I mean come on, its being run buy guys who worked on Charmed, which my friends unaffectionately labeled "Buffy the Vampire Slayer for stupid people"

  • April 12, 2007, 12:13 p.m. CST

    tra la

    by Fabulous Freak


  • April 12, 2007, 12:15 p.m. CST

    Oh crap wrong thread, this is for the Flash Gordon talk

    by Rumple Tumskin

    cant we edit there?? or delete, how embarrassing

  • April 12, 2007, 12:18 p.m. CST

    Kurt Vonnegut's asshole

    by Bronx Cheer

    <p>One of my favorite stories about Mr. Vonnegut...he was signing books and greeting people at a book signing, and a woman asked about the odd squiggly object he drew after his name. It had been on many of his book covers, and was a recognizable part of his signature. He replied, in earnest, that it was a drawing of his asshole. I kid you not.</p> <p>Kurt Vonnegut was a brilliant writer, but more important, he told the damned truth at a time when this country dearly needed it. This is a beautiful obit, Drew.</p> <p>Rest In Peace, Mr. Vonnegut.</p>

  • April 12, 2007, 12:23 p.m. CST

    I shed several tears...

    by Massage...Bored

    ...when I heard the news.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:25 p.m. CST

    Harrison Beregeron

    by Lycaeon

    I seem to recall one of his stories being made into a film. It stared Buck Henry, Sean Astin, and Christopher Plumber. Gonna have to IMDB it to make sure. He will be missed.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:30 p.m. CST

    Another of my hero's have passed.

    by BillyPilgrim

    I'll be copying many of you when I too dig out my Vonnegut books. Fewer and fewer of these brilliant men and women are being replaced. I'm wondering if we are soon to enter a modern literary wasteland. Here's to hoping he's finally seeing the better side of humanity in a far better place.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:30 p.m. CST

    Bronx Cheer

    by PwnedByStallone

    You probably know but that picture of his asshole is basically just an asterik. I think it was in Breakfast of Champions. Your story kicks ass though. Damn I'm depressed about this but he lived a long life and left so much. Slaughterhouse Five is in my top five favorite books. I also love Cat's Cradle, Sirens of Titan, and God Bless You Mr. Rosewater. Judging by his last book it was Kurt's time to go. He was obviously depressed and losing hope and I'm glad he's not in pain anymore. R.I.P. Kurt

  • April 12, 2007, 12:36 p.m. CST

    Absolutely, PwnedByStallone, but just the image

    by Bronx Cheer

    continues to get me. Yes, ma'am, that's my asshole. He was as funny and biting as Twain, and as necessary as a slap in the face during a hysterical fit.

  • April 12, 2007, 12:40 p.m. CST

    Vonnegut introduced me to my wife...

    by Mashman4077

    Well, sort of. My wife and I met during a staged production of "Slaughterhouse Five". We have "So It Goes" engraved on our wedding rings. So long, Kilgore.

  • April 12, 2007, 1 p.m. CST

    Thank You Moriarty

    by Kilgores Doubt

    For the best article I've read all day about one of my only heroes. I was given Breakfast of Champions as an angry young teen by my mother, and have proceeded to read every novel, short story and Non-fiction piece the man has written. He has shaped who I am as a person: morally, spiritually and artistically. I was finally going to meet him in person when he came to L.A in June, but so it goes. I urge everyone to read Sirens Of Titan, which is one of the greatest sci-fi/ social satire books of all time. I will miss you Kurt. I hope they let Humanists into heaven.

  • April 12, 2007, 1:04 p.m. CST

    Calm down

    by Mr. Neutron

    Compare and contrast the reaction of Elizabeth Edwards' health announcement and that of Tony Snow or Dick Cheney - nothing but well wishes on the right, nothing but death wishes on the left (for Snow and Cheney). The Huffpo had to turn off comments whenever a right winger got sick because of the unhinged left. <p> You seem to think you have a great sense of humor but can't tell the difference between a comment made in jest and one made in anger. Yours are in anger, by the way. <p> Where do you get off suggesting that only liberals 'get' esoteric things like books, movies, edutainment etc. I would have thought your nuanced view of life would understand that art and culture can be approached from a range of viewpoints. <p> I dare you to find a death wish comment made by Michelle Malkin. She is the recipient only, along with the standard lefty racist and sexist comments, ping pong jokes and all that. Ann Coulter is a flamethrower and doesn't ask anyone to defend her. Bill Maher is at least as bad. <p> Anger management, bacci40 - look into it.

  • April 12, 2007, 1:06 p.m. CST

    A great loss...

    by DarthCorleone

    I was heartbroken when I found out last night. I wish all the best to his friends, family, and fans (of which I am most definitely one).

  • April 12, 2007, 1:10 p.m. CST

    I saw him speak once.

    by psychedelic

    To this day I can still remember a great deal of what he said. He charted Kafka's Metamorphosis and Shakespeare's Hamlet on a chalk board. These memories are entwined with the only girl I loved. My Uncle Bob died this morning as well. One of those days.

  • April 12, 2007, 1:12 p.m. CST


    by Quin the Eskimo

    I just started reading Vonnegut at Christmas, I read Slaughterhouse Five in two days. I just finished Breakfast of Champions two days ago. The chick at Borders that rang me up complimented me on my reading decision. This saddens me profoundly.

  • April 12, 2007, 1:18 p.m. CST

    My Favorite Novelist

    by Gigolo Joe

    I went to see him give a class on writing in Manhattan ten years ago. It was in a classroom with maybe 30 people - pretty amazing to be in such an intimate setting with the guy. In a couple of hours, I learned more than any writing book could teach. He was witty, wise, and didn't give a sh-t about what people thought. I'll miss that about him. Thankfully we'll always have the books he left behind.

  • April 12, 2007, 1:31 p.m. CST

    "Galapagos" is one of the greatest novels ever written

    by beamish13

    That book elicits such a huge spectrum of emotions from me: laughter, disgust, anger, disbelief, elatedness. Vonnegut didn't need to have a Pulitzer or Nobel or National Book Award on his desk to prove his worth. His oeuvre will outlast that of any American author alive today. If someone you know has trouble making sense of the world today, I hope that you will give them one of his books to find solace in. I'm just grateful to have lived in the same era as someone of his magnificent caliber.

  • April 12, 2007, 1:44 p.m. CST

    "You never know who'll get one."

    by Bibo

    I loved all his books and Galapagos has particular sentimental value. As a kid I began to grasp concepts related to evolution by reading that book. One bit I really enjoyed: (I'd slaughter the quote, so I'll paraphrase)After 6 million years of evolution human beings have evolved into simple, seal-like creatures languishing on beaches, but if somebody farts, everybody still laughs.

  • April 12, 2007, 1:46 p.m. CST

    also, I loved him

    by Bibo

    and I am very sad to hear of his passing. What a life though, huh? You never know who'll get one.

  • April 12, 2007, 2:08 p.m. CST

    I'm so ignorant of this man's works

    by DirkD13"

    But that will change immediately. Great job Mori, i'm on a mission to read some of his books now. My heart goes out to his friends, family and fans.

  • April 12, 2007, 2:10 p.m. CST

    The absolute cruelety that the man who owned the car

    by Quin the Eskimo

    dealership in Breakfast of Champions heaped on his co-worker for the way that he dressed made me laugh 'till I cried.

  • April 12, 2007, 2:27 p.m. CST

    Depressing story.

    by PwnedByStallone

    I was talking to a 30 year old co-worker (I'm nearly 32) and I asked if he had heard that Kurt Vonnegut died. His response was I quote "Never even heard his name before." Jesus F'ing Christ. And just a side comment, it's easy to see why Vonnegut had lost hope and was depressed. I mean his own offspring married Geralo Rivera. I would have put a bullet in my head long ago.

  • April 12, 2007, 2:28 p.m. CST

    Reflections on My Own Death

    by Bondfox

    My emotions towards Vonnegut can hardly be explained except for one regret I'll have is never having the chance to meet this brilliant man. I've been reading through a collection of his essays:Wampeters, Foma, & Granfaloons, and it amazes me how relavent it all is to this day. Cat's Cradle helped me through a rather fragile time I had in a foreign country, I needed paper to write and its covers supplied it. I'll leave you with a part from his essay Reflections on My Own Death When I think about my own death, I don't console myself with the idea that my descendants and my books and all that will live on. Anybody with any sense knows that the whole solar system will go up like a celluloid collar by-and-by. I honestly believe, though, that we are wrong to think that moments go away, never to be seen again. This moment and every moment lasts forever.

  • April 12, 2007, 2:48 p.m. CST

    Right on Bondfox

    by Bibo

    Slaughterhouse 5 shows that time isn't necessarily linear. Everything that has happened or will happen is happening right now. It's some consolation.

  • April 12, 2007, 2:52 p.m. CST


    by Neutron

    I think this was one of his more impressive books, and a surprise return to form coming so late in his career. Really thoughtful and such a poignant ending.

  • April 12, 2007, 3:08 p.m. CST


    by Maceox

    Harmless lies that make you happy!

  • April 12, 2007, 3:11 p.m. CST

    see the cat? see the cradle?

    by durhay

  • April 12, 2007, 3:21 p.m. CST

    Who am I This Time

    by Maceox

    Since this is a movie site, I gotta contribute about a cool little film. "Who am I This Time" is a cool short story about a man who can only deal with reality through the filter of a play. Basically he comes to life on stage, but he is a non entity off the stage. Anyway I have a copy this short story which was made into a very quirky 1 hour movie. The kicker is that the main character is played by none other than Christopher Walken (Very very young) and Susan Sarandon. Walken + Vonnegutt short story = why batman's nipples are hard. More quotes. "Those who believe in tlekenesis raise my hand" or "Thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative." or "1492. As children we were taught to memorize this year with pride and joy as the year people began living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America. Actually, people had been living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America for hundreds of years before that. 1492 was simply the year sea pirates began to rob, cheat, and kill them." or "Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops." and finally ****"A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.**********"

  • April 12, 2007, 3:24 p.m. CST

    Sorry Gotta follow up on the Sea Pirates

    by Maceox

    "The chief weapon of sea pirates, however, was their capacity to astonish. Nobody else could believe, until it was too late, how heartless and greedy they were. "

  • April 12, 2007, 3:27 p.m. CST

    More Quotes

    by Maceox

    Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.

  • April 12, 2007, 3:28 p.m. CST

    More Quotes

    by Maceox

    The visitor from outer space made a serious study of Christianity, to learn, if he could, why Christians found it so easy to be cruel. He concluded that at least part of the trouble was slipshod storytelling in the New Testament. He supposed that the intent of the Gospels was to teach people, among other things, to be merciful, even to the lowest of the low. But the Gospels actually taught this: Before you kill somebody, make absolutely sure he isn't well connected. So it goes.

  • April 12, 2007, 3:29 p.m. CST


    by Maceox

    We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane.

  • April 12, 2007, 3:30 p.m. CST

    Ill keep quoting till it stops hurting

    by Maceox

    "If you can do no good, at least do no harm."

  • April 12, 2007, 3:32 p.m. CST


    by Maceox

    Congressman Nixon had asked me why, as the son of immigrants who had been treated so well by Americans, as a man who had been treated like a son and been sent to Harvard by an American capitalist, I had been so ungrateful to the American economic system. The answer I gave him was not original. Nothing about me has ever been original. I repeated what my one-time hero, Kenneth Whistler, had said in reply to the same general sort of question long, long ago. Whistler had been a witness at a trial of strikers accused of violence. The judge had become curious about him, had asked him why such a well-educated man from such a good family would so immerse himself in the working class. My stolen answer to Nixon was this: "Why? The Sermon on the Mount, sir."

  • April 12, 2007, 3:33 p.m. CST

    Here is a good one

    by Maceox

    What is literature but an insider's newsletter about affairs relating to molecules, of no importance to anything in the Universe but a few molecules who have the disease called 'thought'.

  • April 12, 2007, 3:35 p.m. CST

    Improve the world. Go re-read or (cough) read Vonnegut

    by Maceox

    I am too lazy to chase down the exact quotation but the British astronomer Fred Hoyle said something to this effect: The believing in Darwin’s theoretical mechanisms of evolution was like believing that a hurricane could blow through a junkyard and build a Boeing 747. No matter what is doing the creating. I have to say that the giraffe and the rhinoceros are ridiculous. And so is the human brain, capable, in cahoots with the more sensitive parts of the body, such as the ding dong, of hating life while pretending to love it, and behaving accordingly: Somebody shoot me while I’m happy!

  • April 12, 2007, 3:36 p.m. CST

    Or howabout

    by Maceox

    I will say too, that lovemaking, if sincere, is one of the best ideas Satan put in the apple she gave to the serpent to give to Eve. *The best idea in that apple, though, is making jazz.

  • April 12, 2007, 3:37 p.m. CST

    Or a really great one

    by Maceox

    Artists are people who say I can’t fix my country or my state or my cite, or even my marriage. But by golly, I can make this square of canvas, or this eight and a half by eleven piece of paper, or this lump of clay or these twelve bars of music, exactly what they ought to be.”

  • April 12, 2007, 3:39 p.m. CST

    Oh lets get topical -Iraq_

    by Maceox

    Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power. By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas.

  • April 12, 2007, 3:39 p.m. CST

    Or the moral majority

    by Maceox

    For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere. "Blessed are the merciful" in a courtroom? "Blessed are the peacemakers" in the Pentagon? Give me a break!

  • April 12, 2007, 3:41 p.m. CST

    Or Bush

    by Maceox

    So let’s give another big tax cut to the super-rich. That’ll teach bin Laden a lesson he won’t soon forget.

  • April 12, 2007, 3:41 p.m. CST


    by Maceox

    Here’s what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey. And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we’re hooked on.

  • April 12, 2007, 3:43 p.m. CST

    And Finally

    by Maceox

    My last words? "Life is no way to treat an animal, not even a mouse." Rest

  • April 12, 2007, 3:43 p.m. CST

    And Finally

    by Maceox

    My last words? "Life is no way to treat an animal, not even a mouse." Rest

  • April 12, 2007, 3:46 p.m. CST

    Sorry one more

    by Maceox

    I am a humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without any expectation of rewards or punishments after I’m dead.

  • April 12, 2007, 3:46 p.m. CST

    I love KV's work, but don't get S5

    by jmyoung666

    I am huge Kurt Vonnegut fan and I have read a lot of his work, and I am sad to know that his great mind will never produce another story or essay. However, with regard to the title of this post, I do not get why Slaughter-house Five is considered one of his best works. Because it had more elements directly based upon his life? Isn't that the sign of a weaker novelist usually? I read Slaughterhouse Five after reading Cat's Cradle, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Breakfast of Champions, and Galapogos, and frankly I was a little disappointed. I thought the best part of the book was his intro and his comments on the world and how cigarettes are a socially acceptable form of suicide. For me, Cat's Cradle had a stronger, lasting effect on me than S5 did. I always attributed its elevation to its timing. I don't know, maybe I am just an ignorant bourgeois reader

  • April 12, 2007, 3:47 p.m. CST

    Or from the amazing Daily Show interview

    by Maceox

    …I have wanted to give Iraq a lesson in democracy—because we’re experienced with it, you know. And, in democracy, after a hundred years, you have to let your slaves go. And, after a hundred and fifty years, you have to let your women vote. And, at the beginning of democracy, is that quite a bit of genocide and ethnic cleansing is quite okay. And that’s what’s going on now.

  • April 12, 2007, 3:51 p.m. CST


    by Maceox

    It is a book about humanities stupidity and also a hopefull non religious view of immortality.

  • April 12, 2007, 4:26 p.m. CST


    by jmyoung666

    See, I think he presents those ideas better in some of his other books. I read it when I was in college and that was awhile ago. I might try reading it again.

  • April 12, 2007, 4:34 p.m. CST

    I've re-read Breakfast Of Champions the most times.

    by Cameron1

    Once at 15 once at 19 and twice at 23. Each time I found more of his intelligent and cogent humane philosophy, his almost prophetic visions of society his mordant wit and his truly beautiful/grotesque characters. I'm sad but I know what Mr Vonnegut thinks of death.

  • April 12, 2007, 4:48 p.m. CST

    John Safran's "Not the sunscreen song"

    by Haslowexler

    Anyone ever catch John Safran's reintepretation of the Sunscreen song? Go to you tube and type in "Not The Sunscreen Song". I think Kurt would've approved.

  • April 12, 2007, 4:49 p.m. CST


    by Campfiresongs

    My old english teacher got to listen to Vonnegut give a speech, and in it Vonnegut said "Semicolons are transvestite hermaphrodites." I have never been able to use a semicolon since

  • April 12, 2007, 5 p.m. CST

    You Guys are great

    by Kilgores Doubt

    This has seriously been a rough day for me. I was one month away from shaking hands with the most influential person in my life, only to wake up to this tragedy. (I realize how selfish that is). but to see, just in the Talkbacks of AICN how many people were effected by this man, has brightened my day. Thank you guys.

  • April 12, 2007, 5:17 p.m. CST

    Roscoe Lee Browne

    by Darth Thoth

    Thought there'd be an obit up about him by now but oh well. May he rest in peace to. A fine actor on film, tv, and stage of the highest degree. God bless his soul.

  • April 12, 2007, 5:18 p.m. CST

    hate to thread-jump....

    by PeteBogs

    but Roscoe Lee Browne deserves a mention on AICN, too...

  • April 12, 2007, 5:30 p.m. CST


    by drew mcweeny

    ... you know that Vonnegut had nothing to do with that "sunscreen" speech, right?

  • April 12, 2007, 5:36 p.m. CST

    I think with actors/directors and the like...

    by Cameron1

    the obits take a little longer because they require a bit more of an in depth look at the persons life, this being a site for movies and all. I highly doubt they'd have missed it or something like that. It's coming.

  • April 12, 2007, 5:36 p.m. CST

    Cat's Cradle is my favorite book

    by The Decider

    Call me Jonah. My parents did, or nearly did. They called me John. RIP.

  • April 12, 2007, 6:02 p.m. CST

    I still smile when I

    by Quin the Eskimo

    think of the huge guy in the "Give Peace a Chance" T-shirt

  • April 12, 2007, 6:39 p.m. CST

    The Real Moriarty

    by Haslowexler

    I do now.

  • April 12, 2007, 8:02 p.m. CST

    When Someone Like This Dies

    by MrStinger

    It makes me think how glad I am that he was with us such a long time; what a shame it is that he couldn't be with us forever; and grateful to him for leaving behind so many of his words.

  • April 12, 2007, 9:20 p.m. CST

    Slaughterhouse-5 is my favorite book...

    by Freakemovie

    ...and I've been a big fan of all of Vonnegut's stuff for a while. Seemed like a fascinating guy, may he R.I.P. And of it goes.

  • April 12, 2007, 10:27 p.m. CST

    Death of a true American Hero

    by shrike11

    One of the best investments of my time I have ever made was the 4 hours waiting in line for a chance to see Mr. Vonnegut give a guest lecture at my university. Hundreds of people were turned away at the door after the venue was packed to capacity, but I managed to make it in. In real life he is exactly the person you would picture from reading his books, and with his passing the world has become a bleaker place.

  • April 12, 2007, 10:32 p.m. CST

    Two Guys on a Bench

    by bryanland

    When I first moved to NYC, I was desperate for work and ended up on a park bench near the U.N. Building. Low and behold, on the other end of the bench, was Mr. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., who was reading some sort of free daily newspaper. The paper blew over to my side. I retrieved the paper and delivered it back to him, asking, "I'm sorry, but are you Kurt Vonnegut?" He turned away and answered, "Yes." I replied to the back of his head, "I thought so." Silence went by before he turned back to me (I had returned to my end of the bench) and Mr. Vonnegut inquired, "So, what do you do?" We conversed for about twenty five minutes, during which time, he expressed to a passing pet owner, "You have an ugly dog," the pet owner scowling at Vonnegut as if he were a smelly crack addict. Mr. Vonnegut simply smirked. He spoke of his early days at GE, most notably his first day of work which involved a lab fatality. He also spoke lovingly of "My Life as A Dog" as well as his son Mark. At the end of the conversation, with Vonnegut aware that I was job-searching, told me, "Bryan, if I owned a company, I'd hire you. But I don't. Good luck." After my job interview at a cafe' (a job which I didn't get), I spotted Kurt Vonnegut further down Second Avenue, occupying another bench. I waved. He smiled and half-nodded. This was back in 2003. September. A great memory of a great writer.

  • April 13, 2007, 12:24 a.m. CST

    Amazing story bryanland

    by 12-GAUGE

    That's a really touching little story there. Did you end up getting a job? Damn, I'm pretty interested now. You left a cliffhanger there....

  • April 13, 2007, 1:14 a.m. CST

    I actually cried

    by Cruel_Kingdom

    Vonnegut is the only author I've ever written a fan letter to. I feel like I've personally lost something and someone near and dear... My personal favorite novel is "Breakfast of Champions." Yes, the movie sucked, but the book was brilliant. God bless you, Mr. Vonnegut.

  • April 13, 2007, 8:08 a.m. CST

    re: the great space fuck

    by oldschool

    moving review, tks. Was at his home once, many years ago, w/a friend who was friends of his son, but he wasn't there so I didn't get to meet him. Guess now I never will. An essential part of my adolescence. Remembering when we all had to try sitting facing our girlfriends while the soles of our feet touching to see if it was better than real sex... and remembering that he has the distinction of being the first author to use "fuck" in the a short story title, I think it was in one of Ellison's Dangerous Visions... damn, I'm really sad...

  • April 13, 2007, 9:47 a.m. CST

    RE: 12-Gauge

    by bryanland

    Yep. I'm still here. Ended up in real estate. Everytime I see a bench, I think of Vonnegut. And so it goes.

  • April 13, 2007, 11:48 a.m. CST

    Experiment 626

    by Rebeck2

    Would that bar have been the Wynkoop Brewing Company? Uh-huh. How do I know that?

  • April 13, 2007, 1:29 p.m. CST

    Good bye VonneTAINT

    by Dorothys Taint Again

    Wait, wait, wait, Slaughterhouse 5 isn't the next film by Eli Roth?? Fuck's going on here!?