Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, 1922-2007

"I'm embarrassed to have lived this long. It's in terrible taste. You know I had a fire several years ago, and it would have been so shapely if I'd died in the fire. But here I am, and of course I'm suing the cigarette company because on the package they promised to kill me, and here I am."

-Kurt Vonnegut

Author Kurt Vonnegut Jr. died on April 11 in Manhattan as a result of brain injuries suffered from a fall several weeks ago. He was 84.

Mr. Vonnegut is best known for works blending satire, black comedy and science fiction, such as Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), Cat's Cradle (1963) and Breakfast of Champions (1973).

While a prisoner of war during World War II, Mr. Vonnegut witnessed the aftermath of the February 13-15, 1945 bombing of Dresden, Germany, which destroyed much of the city. He was one of just seven American prisoners of war in Dresden to survive, in an underground meatpacking cellar known as Slaughterhouse Five (which was the source of inspiration for his novel of the same name).

His first short story, "Report on the Barnhouse Effect" appeared in 1950 in Collier's. His first novel was the dystopian science fiction novel Player Piano (1952), in which human workers have been largely replaced by machines.

In 1984 he attempted suicide and later wrote about this in several essays.

In A Man Without a Country, he wrote that "George W. Bush has gathered around him upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography." He did not regard the 2004 election with much optimism; speaking of Bush and John Kerry, he said that, "no matter which one wins, we will have a Skull and Bones President at a time when entire vertebrate species, because of how we have poisoned the topsoil, the waters and the atmosphere, are becoming, hey presto, nothing but skulls and bones."

He looked like this:

Mr. Vonnegut is survived by his wife, the photographer Jill Krementz, three children from his first marriage to Jane Marie Cox and four adopted children.

Sad but not surprised,

James "Kilgore Trout" Comtois

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