"If you really want to disappoint your parents, and don't have the nerve to be gay, go into the arts." –Kurt Vonnegut
Unlike many other people my age, I have never been swept away into another world by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. But I was saddened to read of his passing at the age of 84 in New York City due to serious brain damage.
To me, Vonnegut works the same way as Stanley Kubrick, because I never give either of them much credit and yet I’ve read or seen much of their work: Mother Night, Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions, Galapagos and A Man Without a Country.
His work was always very easy to read which probably resulted in my reading so many of the novels; I can remember reading Galapagos at the mechanics waiting for my car to be fixed and Mother Night in the uncomfortable, musty upstairs section of the Purchase College library.
My friend, Hannah, was the person who first got me to read Cat’s Cradle, which might actually be my least favorite. In a note she gave me right before I was to read it, she wrote, “Anyway, I hope you like Cat’s Cradle. It’s probably my favorite Kurt Vonnegut book. When I went to borrow it from Mr. Bright yesterday, I told him about our discussion/argument about religion and he said that you’re ‘definitely ready for Cat’s Cradle.’ So there you are, straight from the mouth of an English teacher.”
While Vonnegut may never be my favorite author, I am glad for his contributions and, as my father wrote this morning in an e-mail we sent back and forth, “For me, it's sad mostly as another sign of the passing of an era.”
Along those lines, who’s next to pass away? Philip Roth? God hope not.