Monday, December 31, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was unique, which caused him a lot of problems early on. Even before he'd refined his very individual style, he seemed to sense the likelihood of failure when he created his crazed, destitute science fiction writer alter ego, Kilgore Trout.

But his novels Cat's Cradle, Good Bless You Mr. Rosewater and Mother Night--with that unique point of view, that gallows humor and unique style (so apparently simple, almost childlike)--got the attention of other writers, and a job teaching at the Iowa Writers Workshop, where he quickly became a legend.
His breakthrough novel, Slaughterhouse Five, was a strange but strangely apt combination of sci-fi and realism about the total destruction of Dresden in the World War II firebombing no one wanted to talk about (although I'd read about it in a war comic book in the 50s.) He was a survivor of it as a P.O.W.--not quite as hapless as his hero, Billy Pilgrim, but just as young. (That's his Army photo down there.)
Later he became as famous and popular for his lectures as his novels, and as a writer, lecturer and social critic, he became our Mark Twain. He even came to resemble Twain. Some of his books are judged better than others--he himself graded his novels from A to D. But I've read everything he published with profit and much delight and admiration.
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