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And So It Goes

Birdcage

It is with great personal sadness today that I note the passing of a writer who’s work meant so much to me when I was growing up.

Kurt Vonnegut died yeterday from brain injuries related to a fall he had taken some weeks earlier at his Manhattan home. It’s a kinder fate than so many that he granted to some of the characters that populated his vast, overlapping literary world.

Public consciousness seems to remember the Billy Pilgrim and Elliot Rosewater characters in their obituaries, but it was Kilgore Trout, the questionable science fiction writer who’s work only seemed to get published in second-tier girlie magazines who was my favorite recurring personage. Albert Finney did a great job playing him in the film version of Breakfast of Champions (which is not as bad as you’ve heard, but not a great film by any stretch either).

His anti-war novel Slaughterhouse-Five was probably the closest thing to a work of horror Vonnegut wrote. His description of the massive human suffering and the cultural loss that the World War 2 Allied firebombing of Dresden created — and he should know, as he was there to witness it — is as relevant to the world today as the era in which it was first committed to paper.

Vonnegut was not the kind of man who rested peacefully, so I won’t waste time wishing him that now. Instead, to his family I wish only kindness and to the playfully irascible spirit of the man himself, I recite his classic Tralfamadorian greeting:

“Hello. Goodbye. Hello.”

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