Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. 1922-2007

Kurt Vonnegut has died and I don't know what I'm more surprised about; the fact that he lived as long as he did or the deep sense of loss and sadness I feel.

Kurt Vonnegut was my favourite writer and has been since I first read Cat's Cradle in 1995. I think what impressed me most at that young age was how witty and completely irreverent he was. He had opinions that were flagrantly anti-social but he came across as insightful and wise instead of cranky and ill-adjusted. I wanted to be him.

His writing was sharp and edgy and extremely demanding. He was obviously intelligent and subtly sad and I sometimes felt frustrated on his behalf. To have witnessed the war, to feel a natural connection with all mankind and to communicate it so vividly and be ignored. Never as a writer, but as a social critic. The people who listened already knew. How angry he must have been at times. Him and Noam Chomsky would have had a lot to say over beers.

Kurt was on my list of things to do before I died. I wanted to meet him. I have written him several letters over the years and sent none of them. They were never good enough, never worthy of being read by him. Did I learn a lesson now that he's gone and I'll never meet him or even have the chance to thank him? You bet I did.

I feel like the world has lost an important voice. A hysterically prodding and achingly accurate, in your face, peace-loving and at times, desperate, voice. I feel like I've lost a very good friend and the only thing that brings me comfort is that I knew him at all.