Thursday, April 12, 2007

OBITUARY | Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut is dead. Via NYT.

I admit, I don't read enough Kurt Vonnegut books. The last Vonnegut I read was Mother Night — it was about an American, Howard W. Campbell, Jr who worked as a Nazi broadcaster during World War II. He was later identified as a war criminal and sent to trial. But the truth is, Howard Campbell, Jr was actually working as an undercover agent for the United States during the war, using the Nazi broadcasts to communicate vital Allies messages.

It struck me that it was one of the saddest books I've ever read. Sad because the human fallibilities he read about were so real. Vonnegut's books are funny in a dark, sad slant. I always thought of him as one of those men who desperately needs to laugh because otherwise he would be crying.

The New York Times writer sums it up:

To Mr. Vonnegut, the only possible redemption for the madness and apparent meaninglessness of existence was human kindness. The title character in his 1965 novel, "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater," summed up his philosophy:

"Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ "

The world is screwed up, and all we can really do is just try our best at a life with some decency. And Kurt Vonnegut is dead.

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