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KURT VONNEGUT

Posted: April 12th, 2007, by Chris Summerlin

American author Kurt Vonnegut died yesterday aged 84.
I don’t read that many books because I have the same problem with them as I do with a lot of films: by their nature and the length of time it takes to ‘consume’ one, there is inevitably a certain amount of flab, or filler to wade through. I don’t like being reminded that I need to be more busy and books and films usually have this unfortunate effect on me. I suppose it’s hard to make everything count in something that takes so long to experience.
This is why Kurt Vonnegut is my favourite author. I always feel I’m wasting my time when I stop reading his books (or looking at his drawings). He had a way with the most minimal amount of words of conveying something staggeringly huge. Indescribable even. So it works better to approach the subject from a different angle, to suggest the reader thinks of it exactly how they want to, safe in the knowledge that if the reader engages with it then their own interpretation cannot be anything less than perfect.
Someone once said that there is no humour without cruelty, or that there is no such thing as victim-less humour. It’s true. Vonnegut is the only author who can make me laugh out loud reading a book about the bombing of Dresden in WWII. Alongside James Baldwin, he is also the only author that has made me re-read pages of a book as I go along because I thought they were so good.
His style of writing, with it’s cross referencing of characters, self awareness and the brilliant touch of adding his own drawings into the text, sounds uninviting perhaps if you’ve never read him before. Like some knowing, post-modern nightmare. Nothing could be further from the truth, Vonnegut was a supreme humanist. The inevitable tradegy of human life and the absurdity of it all versus the ways of dealing with it and dealing with your fellow humans.
He would have made a good president.
Like John Fahey I can now begin the period of regretting that I never met him and didn’t buy one of his paintings when they were cheap.
So it goes.



Chris Summerlin

Chris lives for the rock and can often be seen stumbling drunkenly on (and off) stages far and wide. Other hobbies include wearing jumpers, arsing about with Photoshop and trying to beat the world record for the number of offensive comments made in any 24 hour period. He has been married twice but his heart really belongs to his guitars. All 436 of them.

http://www.honeyisfunny.com

1 Response to KURT VONNEGUT

  1. Ben

    Brilliantly put Chris.

    That says everything I’d hoped the obituary I’m in the process of writing would.

    Very sad – aside from anything else, he was the last surviving author whom I’d rate as a true great, and I can’t see any replacements nearby. : (