I saw Kurt Vonnegut read at Trenton State College. Despite his age, he grasped the podium with vigor and held forth on the essence of drama, of humanity. I’d discovered his work the first summer I came home from college and was working in a grocery store. On break, out on the loading dock, I read my father’s copy of Cat’s Cradle, long dormant on his book shelf since it had been recommended to him in theological school as a way of “getting in touch with the young people.” Vonnegut does that, all right, and so much more. My senior year high school English teacher had handed out photocopies of Billy Pilgrim’s backward journey through time–where the bombs are sucked back upward into the planes, taken to factories, disassembled, etc. His is the alchemist’s skill–the ability to turn tragedy to comedy. To those who, as quoted in the New York Times (from which the above picture is also gleaned), reject Kurt’s work as collections of empty aphorisms, all I have to say is, gee, sorry! To the rest of you: “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”
So it goes.