I received a dozen e-mail this morning regarding Kurt Vonnegut’s death and today it is all my friends-list is writing about. Thank you. I found out last night, almost as the last conscious in-put I managed. Dark, brilliant, cherished, he died last night in his home in Manhattan at age 84. He had fallen several weeks ago and received brain injuries. I hope it was as peaceful can be.
I thought, as I slipped into sleep, that I wanted to hold him close a moment, and then I was gone. Waking, he was my first muzzy thought. I do not feel bereft, as thousands are today, but I do feel unsettled, as if something essential has gone missing. His easy, beautiful writing was unique, (a good trick if you can manage it), and everywhere today are stories about how his books changed lives for the better. 14 astonishing novels in 84 years. One of which, the semiautobiographical Slaughterhouse Five, (he was one of just seven American prisoners of war to survive the Dresden Fire Bombing, an act he later described as “a work of art.”), is considered one of the best American novels of the 20th century, appearing on the 100 best lists of Time magazine and the Modern Library. Go, read them all, for they are all gifts to the world. There was never an artist quite like him, his lyricism should never be neglected. It is with regret that I say I have not given away his books enough.
“I am, incidentally, Honorary President of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in that totally functionless capacity. We had a memorial service for Isaac a few years back, and I spoke and said at one point, ‘Isaac is up in heaven now.’ It was the funniest thing I could have said to an audience of humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored. And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, ‘Kurt is up in heaven now.’ That’s my favorite joke.”