Thursday, April 12, 2007

Remembering Kurt Vonnegut

Remembering Kurt Vonnegut
Today, the Web is full of tributes to Kurt Vonnegut, Jr, who died last night. There have been some 250 edits to his Wikipedia entry since his death. Boing Boing readers have sent in some of their tributes:

* The Books of Bokonon from Cat's Cradle, which include the Bokononist last rites:

God made mud.
God got lonesome.
So God said to some of the mud, "Sit up!"
"See all I've made," said God, "the hills, the sea, the sky, the stars."
And I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
Lucky me, lucky mud.
I, mud, sat up and saw what a nice job God had done.
Nice going, God.

(Thanks, Dannel!)
* David posted an MP3: "This is a wonderful track of Kurt reading aloud, from an ancient audiobook of Slaughterhouse Five. It was set to music by parties unknown, and was a bonus track on a much newer audiobook (read by Ethan Hawke). Ethan's reading of the book is okay, but he can't match the author's perfect inflections. The file's a bit long but it's worth every second." Coral Cache Mirror, Original Link
* The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is collecting fan tributes -- someone should sent them this video montage of Vonnegut stills and clips (Thanks, Russ and Gary!)

See also:
Vonnegut on "Shock and Awe"

Update: Andrew sez, "Here is the audio of Vonnegut reading from Slaughterhouse without the (lame) music."

Michael sez, "This is one of my favorite Vonnegut quotes. I haven't seen it in the press anywhere but it seems appropriate to mention it now:"

Do you know what a Humanist is? I am honorary president of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in that functionless capacity. We Humanists try to behave well without any expectation of rewards or punishments in an afterlife. We serve as best we can the only abstraction with which we have any real familiarity, which is our community.

We had a memorial services for Isaac a few years back, and at one point I said, "Isaac is up in Heaven now." It was the funniest thing I could have said to a group of Humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored. And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, "Kurt is up in Heaven now." That's my favorite joke.

Jeremiah sez, "I interviewed Kurt Vonnegut years ago and had an interesting encounter with him."

And a reader sends in Vonnegut's Daily Show appearance.

posted by Cory Doctorow at 06:10:33 AM permalink | blogs' comments

Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Kurt Vonnegut, RIP

Kurt Vonnegut, one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century, is dead. Oh, shit. Vonnegut wrote 14 novels. He had fallen several weeks ago and received brain injuries. He was 84.

My first Vonnegut was Breakfast of Champions. I'd never read anything like it. It was a novel that was so easy, everything just happening, one thing after another. The book almost read itself. That was his gift, I think: to tell you things that were hard to hear, without you even noticing it. Like a nurse who can slide a needle into your vein without making you wince.

Vonnegut has haunted me, delighted me, and made me sad. I still think of the world in terms of Wampeters, Foma, and Karasses, the Boknonism ideas set out in Cat's Cradle. I still think that "Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time," may be the best opening line of any novel -- and that the novel, Slaughterhouse 5 lives up to that line.

In 1944 he was shipped to Europe with the 106th Infantry Division and shortly saw combat in the Battle of the Bulge. With his unit nearly destroyed, he wandered behind enemy lines for several days until he was captured and sent to a prisoner of war camp near Dresden, the architectural jewel of Germany.

Assigned by his captors to make vitamin supplements, he was working with other prisoners in an underground meat locker when British and American war planes started carpet bombing the city, creating a firestorm above him. The work detail saved his life.

Afterward, he and his fellow prisoners were assigned to remove the dead.

Link, Wikipedia bio (Thanks, Allen)

(Image ganked from Wikipedia)

Tip of the hat to Boing Boing