Vonnegut, Glaciers

Kurt Vonnegut, Novelist Who Caught the Imagination of His Age, Is Dead at 84

From “Slaughterhouse-Five“:

Over the years, people I’ve met have often asked me what I’m working on, and I’ve usually replied that the main thing was a book about Dresden.

I said that to Harrison Starr, the movie-maker, one time, and he raised his eyebrows and inquired, “Is it an anti-war book?”

“Yes,” I said. “I guess.”

“You know what I say to people when I hear they’re writing anti-war books?”

“No. What do you say, Harrison Starr?

“I say, ‘Why don’t you write an anti-glacier book instead.’ ”

What he meant, of course, was that there would always be wars, that they were as easy to stop as glaciers. I believe that, too.

And even if wars didn’t keep coming like glaciers, there would still be plain old death.

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6 Replies to “Vonnegut, Glaciers”

  1. I never acquired the Vonnegut habit. His works always struck me as too close to the science fiction or Tom-Robbins-“Look at me! I’m a hip, modern novelist!” camps to grab my attention. Maybe someday. Those people I’ve met who were his fans always seemed to have an almost cult-like devotion to him, which also caused me to keep his works at bay. Perhaps I’m doing him and me a disservice.

  2. You know, I don’t disagree about Vonnegut. I “discovered” him at the same time as a lot of my peers, when I was 18 (1972). Read several of his books very quickly, took in what an 18-year-old could. I remember the slightly older guys in the newsroom where I was working telling me that Vonnegut was shallow, not much of a writer, etc. That’s all on one hand — and I listened to a snatch of “Slaughterhouse-Five” on Audible.com and immediately remembered some of the Vonnegut literary un-mannerisms that are a turn-off (the calculated repetition of “and so it goes” and “and so on.”). At the same time, I think the guy was a fine observer of people, thought a lot about the various paradoxes and quandaries and crises we fine ourselves dealing with individually and as a nation, and expressed what he discovered very well.

  3. My favorite line was rephrased Cat’s Cradle from Between Time and Timbuktu: “I suppose it goes to show you have to be very careful what you pretend to be. Because one day you may wake up to find that’s what you are.” I know this guy who pretended to be a Texan….

  4. I read all of Vonnegut’s books around the time I was a senior in high school. I don’t remember them all that well, even though at the time I really enjoyed them. They made a movie out of Slaughterhouse-five which was not all that great. The soundtrack included excerpts from Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos as well as The Goldberg Variations, played by Glenn Gould. I had never heard this music before and ran out to buy the recordings. Last week, Sean was playing a piece from the Brandenburgs and I told him that story–about the first time I’d heard it–and about Vonnegut’s book. So there you have it. Kurt Vonnegut introduced me to J.S. Bach.
    Another Vonnegut story. Back during my truck driving days I was waiting at a red light on Park Avenue when I saw Vonnegut waiting to cross the street in front of me. I thought Wow…That’s Kurt Vonnegut. He is really tall. And then I thought, Gee, it must have been tough being so tall back in his bomber flying days.
    I like the quote about “the guy from Texas.”

  5. “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.'”

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