April 12, 2007



Well, you know, that just sucks for a Thursday morning. But I think for a guy who survived Dresden stuck in a basement or whatever, he ultimately had a long, happy life, and that alone, his juggernaut literary career entirely aside, is no small wonder.


Count me also as a big fan of MOTHER NIGHT, which I always thought belonged in the same higher bracket occupied by CAT'S CRADLE, SLAUGHTER-HOUSE and BREAKFAST OF CHAMPION.


I think you'll also enjoy this beautiful tribute video for Kurt:



Before you we read long latin words spliced and diced,
Generally disrespected,
Always knowing that the old and the dead are great,
Sanctified by burial,
Having taken big parts of our living tongue to Hell,
Selfishly conniving,
Leaving us with less to say and fewer words to use,
Horribly reduced.

You took us though and through your books,
Full of blood and sex and true things,
You point out lies and fuck us up,
With thoughts of what we've done--
You goddamn *.

So it goes.

Impeach Churchill

Um...come again?


Nobody seems to get the poem, so:

You were a good writer, Kurt. I liked your books pretty good. Have a beer with Asimov and Jesus.


Poignant links. You might be able to find some of his reviews here.


Thanks for providing this tribute and these links. As one of those students of the seventies, it feels like the end of an era to me. All of the grownups to whom we looked for guidance are leaving the stage and now it's just us.


I'd suggest those looking for a kind of Vonnegut of the moment to check out Victor Pelevin; like Vonnegut perhaps a little hit and miss type but I'd suggest a deeper talent.

Timothy Braun

It’s been said Vonnegut was a miserable man that made people laugh. Vonnegut was more than my hero, he was me.

l. vonnegut

here is a little something i wrote about my last visit with kurt.


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  • The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."


  • The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald


    Penelope Fitzgerald's second novel is the tale of Florence Green, a widow who seeks, in the late 1950s, to bring a bookstore to an isolated British town, encountering all manner of obstacles, including incompetent builders, vindictive gentry, small minded bankers, an irritable poltergeist, but, above all, a town that might not, in fact, want a bookshop. Fitzgerald's prose is spare but evocative – there's no wasted effort and her work reminds one of Hemingway's dictum that every word should fight for its right to be on the page. Florence is an engaging creation, stubbornly committed to her plan even as uncertainty regarding the wisdom of the enterprise gnaws at her. But The Bookshop concerns itself, finally, with the astonishing vindictiveness of which provincials are capable, and, as so much English fiction must, it grapples with the inevitabilities of class. It's a dense marvel at 123 pages, a book you won't want to – or be able to – rush through.
  • The Rider by Tim Krabbe


    Tim Krabbé's superb 1978 memoir-cum-novel is the single best book we've read about cycling, a book that will come closer to bringing you inside a grueling road race than anything else out there. A kilometer-by-kilometer look at just what is required to endure some of the most grueling terrain in the world, Krabbé explains the tactics, the choices and – above all – the grinding, endless, excruciating pain that every cyclist faces and makes it heart-pounding rather than expository or tedious. No writer has better captured both the agony and the determination to ride through the agony. He's an elegant stylist (ably served by Sam Garrett's fine translation) and The Rider manages to be that rarest hybrid – an authentic, accurate book about cycling that's a pleasure to read. "Non-racers," he writes. "The emptiness of those lives shocks me."