Saturday, November 11, 2006

Happy Birthday, Kurt Vonnegut!

Kurt Vonnegut: "American author noted for his pessimistic and satirical novels, best known for SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE (1969), which was based on his experiences in Dresden, Germany, where he was a prisoner-of-war at the destruction of the town in 1945. Vonnegut uses fantasy and science fiction to examine the horrors and absurdities of 20th century civilization. His constant concern about the effects of technology on humanity has led some critics to consider him a science fiction writer, but the author himself has rejected this label."

Back in the '70s I read Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse 5, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, The Sirens of Titan, Mother Night, and probably others that aren't coming to mind. I taught a couple of those in my American Novels class. Great stuff. I hope Vonnegut sticks around for a long time.


  1. Anonymous10:38 AM

    What about Welcome to the Monkey House, with the story about the "egalitarian" society? The news announcers all have speech impediments, the ballet dancers wear weights on their ankles, and so on, because no one is to be made to feel inferior by anyone else's superior talents.--Karin

  2. I like that collection, and "Harrison Bergeron," the story you mention, is even more true now than when it was written.

  3. Todd Mason12:53 PM

    And it was one of the last short stories he's published...he couldn't place it with SATURDAY EVENING POST nor PLAYBOY, so Davidson's FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION had to serve as a salvage market for it. I consider THE SIRENS OF TITAN his best sf novel, still, BLUEBEARD his best contemporary-mimetic/near-past historical. But I need to pick up the latest one.

  4. Todd Mason12:56 PM

    And Vonnegut has written at least once that he doesn't consider himself an sf writer mostly because of largely ignorant critical opprobrium for sf, and because he looks upon the sf-writer community as something akin to an Elks Lodge, and he doesn't want to keep up with the handshakes.

    Hard to argue with the first. De gustibus, I guess, to the second (though some writers' [of all descriptions] behavior can be dissuasive).

  5. Anonymous7:58 PM

    I used to start my HS sophs off with "Harrison Bergeron" and a lesson on equality and fairness. It always made for a good year.