Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Book Life 5: Beautiful from Beyond the Grave

Armageddon in Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut

I never knew the man personally, but I miss Kurt Vonnegut terribly. When he passed on, a small void opened in the world that I don’t think will ever be filled. I have never read a word he wrote that I did not absolutely love. This book is no exception. Armageddon is a collection of previously unpublished bits and a few of his sketches. As anyone who has read Vonnegut knows, there is much of World War II in his ramblings. It left an indelible mark on Kurt and is visible in everything he wrote. His despair over the realization that humans can do these things to one another bleeds through all his work. I don’t have a lot to say about this book except that I loved it, and it saddens me greatly to know that there will be no new Vonnegut to read ever again. So I will simply leave you with a thought from the man himself and two from the introduction by his son Mark.

“Where do I get my ideas from? You might as well have asked that of Beethoven. He was goofing around in Germany like everybody else, and all of a sudden this stuff came gushing out of him. It was music. I was goofing around like everybody else in Indiana, and all of a sudden stuff came gushing out. It was disgust with civilization.” KV

“He couldn’t help thinking that all that money we were spending blowing up things and killing people so far away, making people the world over hate and fear us, would have been better spent on public education and libraries.” MV on KV

“Reading and writing are in themselves subversive acts. What they subvert is the notion that things have to be the way they are, that you are alone, that no one has ever felt the way you have. What occurs to people when they read Kurt is that things are much more up for grabs that they thought they were. The world is slightly different place just because they read a damn book. Imagine that.” MV

No comments: