Kurt Vonnegut Dies at 84

Talk about anything and everything not related to this site or the Dreamcast, such as news stories, political discussion, or anything else. If there's not a forum for it, it belongs in here. Also, be warned that personal insults, threats, and spamming will not be tolerated.
Post Reply
User avatar
DaMadFiddler
Team Screamcast
Team Screamcast
Posts: 7953
Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2004 7:17 am
Location: San Francisco, CA
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0
Contact:

Kurt Vonnegut Dies at 84

Post by DaMadFiddler » Wed Apr 11, 2007 11:58 pm

Vonnegut is one of my all-time favorite authors, and in some ways struck me as a sort of modern-day Mark Twain.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18066068/
NEW YORK - Kurt Vonnegut, the satirical novelist who captured the absurdity of war and questioned the advances of science in darkly humorous works such as “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “Cat’s Cradle,” died Wednesday. He was 84.

Vonnegut, who often marveled that he had lived so long despite his lifelong smoking habit, had suffered brain injuries after a fall at his Manhattan home weeks ago, said his wife, photographer Jill Krementz.

The author of at least 19 novels, many of them best-sellers, as well as dozens of short stories, essays and plays, Vonnegut relished the role of a social critic. He lectured regularly, exhorting audiences to think for themselves and delighting in barbed commentary against the institutions he felt were dehumanizing people.

“I will say anything to be funny, often in the most horrible situations,” Vonnegut, whose watery, heavy-lidded eyes and unruly hair made him seem to be in existential pain, once told a gathering of psychiatrists.

A self-described religious skeptic and freethinking humanist, Vonnegut used protagonists such as Billy Pilgrim and Eliot Rosewater as transparent vehicles for his points of view. He also filled his novels with satirical commentary and even drawings that were only loosely connected to the plot. In “Slaughterhouse-Five,” he drew a headstone with the epitaph: “Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.”

But much in his life was traumatic, and left him in pain.

Struggles and a suicide attempt
Kurt Vonnegut works
— “Player Piano,” 1951
— “The Sirens of Titan,” 1959
— “Canary in a Cat House,” 1961 (short works)
— “Mother Night,” 1961
— “Cat’s Cradle,” 1963
— “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater,” 1965
— “Welcome to the Monkey House,” 1968 (short works)
— “Slaughterhouse-Five,” 1969
— “Happy Birthday, Wanda June,” 1971 (play)
— “Between Time and Timbuktu,” 1972 (TV script)
— “Breakfast of Champions,” 1973
— “Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons,” 1974 (opinions)
— “Slapstick,” 1976
— “Jailbird,” 1979
— “Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage,” 1981 (essays)
— “Deadeye Dick,” 1982
— “Galapagos,” 1985
— “Bluebeard,” 1987
— “Hocus Pocus,” 1990
— “Fates Worse than Death: An Autobiographical Collage of the 1980s,” 1991 (essays)
— “Timequake,” 1997
Despite his commercial success, Vonnegut battled depression throughout his life, and in 1984, he attempted suicide with pills and alcohol, joking later about how he botched the job.

His mother had succeeded in killing herself just before he left for Germany during World War II, where he was quickly taken prisoner during the Battle of the Bulge. He was being held in Dresden when Allied bombs created a firestorm that killed an estimated 135,000 people in the city.

“The firebombing of Dresden explains absolutely nothing about why I write what I write and am what I am,” Vonnegut wrote in “Fates Worse Than Death,” his 1991 autobiography of sorts.

But he spent 23 years struggling to write about the ordeal, which he survived by huddling with other POW’s inside an underground meat locker labeled slaughterhouse-five.

The novel, in which Pvt. Pilgrim is transported from Dresden by time-traveling aliens from the planet Tralfamadore, was published at the height of the Vietnam War, and solidified his reputation as an iconoclast.

“He was sort of like nobody else,” said Gore Vidal, who noted that he, Vonnegut and Norman Mailer were among the last writers around who served in World War II.

“He was imaginative; our generation of writers didn’t go in for imagination very much. Literary realism was the general style. Those of us who came out of the war in the 1940s made sort of the official American prose, and it was often a bit on the dull side. Kurt was never dull.”

Vonnegut was born on Nov. 11, 1922, in Indianapolis, a “fourth-generation German-American religious skeptic Freethinker,” and studied chemistry at Cornell University before joining the Army.

When he returned, he reported for Chicago’s City News Bureau, then did public relations for General Electric, a job he loathed. He wrote his first novel, “Player Piano,” in 1951, followed by “The Sirens of Titan,” “Canary in a Cat House” and “Mother Night,” making ends meet by selling Saabs on Cape Cod.

Novels impossible to ignore
Critics ignored him at first, then denigrated his deliberately bizarre stories and disjointed plots as haphazardly written science fiction. But his novels became cult classics, especially “Cat’s Cradle” in 1963, in which scientists create “ice-nine,” a crystal that turns water solid and destroys the earth.

Many of his novels were best-sellers. Some also were banned and burned for suspected obscenity. Vonnegut took on censorship as an active member of the PEN writers’ aid group and the American Civil Liberties Union. The American Humanist Association, which promotes individual freedom, rational thought and scientific skepticism, made him its honorary president.

His characters tended to be miserable anti-heroes with little control over their fate. Pilgrim was an ungainly, lonely goof. The hero of “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater” was a sniveling, obese volunteer fireman.

Vonnegut said the villains in his books were never individuals, but culture, society and history, which he said were making a mess of the planet.

“We probably could have saved ourselves, but we were too damned lazy to try very hard ... and too damn cheap,” he once suggested carving into a wall on the Grand Canyon, as a message for flying-saucer creatures.

He retired from novel writing in his later years, but continued to publish short articles. He had a best-seller in 2005 with “A Man Without a Country,” a collection of his nonfiction, including jabs at the Bush administration (“upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography”) and the uncertain future of the planet.

He called the book’s success “a nice glass of champagne at the end of a life.”

Vonnegut, who had homes in Manhattan and the Hamptons in New York, adopted his sister’s three young children after she died. He also had three children of his own with his first wife, Ann Cox, and later adopted a daughter, Lily, with his second wife, the noted photographer Jill Krementz.

Vonnegut once said that of all the ways to die, he’d prefer to go out in an airplane crash on the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro. He often joked about the difficulties of old age.

“When Hemingway killed himself he put a period at the end of his life; old age is more like a semicolon,” Vonnegut told The Associated Press in 2005.

“My father, like Hemingway, was a gun nut and was very unhappy late in life. But he was proud of not committing suicide. And I’ll do the same, so as not to set a bad example for my children.”
User avatar
|darc|
DCEmu Webmaster
DCEmu Webmaster
Posts: 16219
Joined: Wed Mar 14, 2001 6:00 pm
Location: New Orleans, LA
Has liked: 34 times
Been liked: 15 times
Contact:

Post by |darc| » Thu Apr 12, 2007 12:03 am

:cry:

I haven't read anything by him, but I own Cat's Cradle, everyone keeps telling me to read that and Slaughterhouse-Five.

I think I'll read them over the summer in his honor.
It's thinking...
User avatar
Wagh
Wagh
Posts: 5742
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2002 7:59 pm
Location: YSOH
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0
Contact:

Post by Wagh » Thu Apr 12, 2007 12:16 am

I've read about half of his books. All amazing.

Good man.

Sad to see him go.
Bush and Hussein together in bed
Giving H-E-A-D head
Y'all motherfuckers heard what we said
Billions made and millions dead
Lartrak
DCEmu Respected
DCEmu Respected
Posts: 6166
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2002 9:28 pm
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

Post by Lartrak » Thu Apr 12, 2007 8:18 am

He was being held in Dresden when Allied bombs created a firestorm that killed an estimated 135,000 people in the city.
I like how the numbers on Dresden seem completely random. Everything from about 25,000 to 300,000. I guess they took a low balled average?

But yeah, I'm amazed Vonnegut lived as long as he did. He considered himself to be passively committing suicide by his living habits in his later days.

Slaughterhouse Five is a masterwork.
How to be a Conservative:
You have to believe everything that has ever gone wrong in the history of your country was due to Liberals.
404NotFound
DCEmu Ex-Mod
DCEmu Ex-Mod
Posts: 4970
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2001 3:40 pm
Location: The Canadian-Mexican border.
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

Post by 404NotFound » Thu Apr 12, 2007 5:55 pm

I know everybody always loves Slaughterhouse Five, but I still think my favorite Vonnegut novel is Mother Night.

Either that or Sirens of Titan.
User avatar
DaMadFiddler
Team Screamcast
Team Screamcast
Posts: 7953
Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2004 7:17 am
Location: San Francisco, CA
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0
Contact:

Post by DaMadFiddler » Thu Apr 12, 2007 7:41 pm

404NotFound wrote:I know everybody always loves Slaughterhouse Five, but I still think my favorite Vonnegut novel is Mother Night.

Either that or Sirens of Titan.
I was always a fan of Cat's Cradle. Vonnegut's science (and, often, his history) is pretty much bunk, but he tells a great story...he has a very interesting if slightly twisted style...and I love the way that philosophy just sort of naturally grows out of his books. I've read about a half-dozen of his novels, and I'd like to track down the rest.
User avatar
DaMadFiddler
Team Screamcast
Team Screamcast
Posts: 7953
Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2004 7:17 am
Location: San Francisco, CA
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0
Contact:

Post by DaMadFiddler » Mon Apr 16, 2007 8:34 pm

...Okay, this really pisses me off.

http://www.crooksandliars.com/2007/04/1 ... ews-style/

One of the great American authors of our time passes away, after a long life and having produced a number of great and memorable works. So the fuckmonkeys over at Fox News go on the air with a "Look how fucked up this guy is" smear speech, taking digs at him the whole time under the guise of an "obituary." Jesus Christ these guys are assholes.
User avatar
CupNoodle
Jim Dandy!
Posts: 2336
Joined: Thu Jul 25, 2002 9:48 pm
Location: ny
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

Post by CupNoodle » Mon Apr 16, 2007 10:00 pm

I can't fucking believe it. My jaw dropped as a read the thread title. DAMN YOU PALL MALL! DAAAAAAAAAMN YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOU!!!!
User avatar
Christuserloeser
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 5941
Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2003 12:16 am
Location: DCEvolution.net
Has liked: 6 times
Been liked: 0
Contact:

Post by Christuserloeser » Mon Apr 16, 2007 10:06 pm

Lartrak wrote:I like how the numbers on Dresden seem completely random. Everything from about 25,000 to 300,000. I guess they took a low balled average?
It means "See, we Germans are WWII victims too."

The Anti-German left calls it "The Great Dresden Swindle". [1] [2]

It's just one of a billion of things going on atm trying to prove the Nazis more-or-less innocent and the allied forces as nothing but mass-murdering monsters raping 'our' women.

We got multi-million dollar movies on the state's public TV channels and kids being forced to read a book in school since 2003 which basically says SS guards of extermination camps are people you could fall in love with while jews are strange and rich and won't forgive you.
Insane homebrew collector.
jaredfogle
DCEmu Turkey Baster
DCEmu Turkey Baster
Posts: 2663
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2002 8:34 pm
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

Post by jaredfogle » Tue Apr 17, 2007 1:02 am

CupNoodle wrote:I can't fucking believe it. My jaw dropped as a read the thread title. DAMN YOU PALL MALL! DAAAAAAAAAMN YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOU!!!!
I don't mean to be unsympathetic, but the man was 84 and he didn't die of cancer.
Where's toastman? I'm bored.
User avatar
CupNoodle
Jim Dandy!
Posts: 2336
Joined: Thu Jul 25, 2002 9:48 pm
Location: ny
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

Post by CupNoodle » Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:10 pm

jaredfogle wrote:
CupNoodle wrote:I can't fucking believe it. My jaw dropped as a read the thread title. DAMN YOU PALL MALL! DAAAAAAAAAMN YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOU!!!!
I don't mean to be unsympathetic, but the man was 84 and he didn't die of cancer.
I know, I just felt like saying it.
Post Reply