Monday, April 30, 2007

Vonnegut's genius

I really recommend that anyone who enjoys reading and/or thinking check out this article at the Onion's AV Club: 15 Things Kurt Vonnegut Said Better Than Anyone Else Ever Has Or Will
While it is surely kind of annoying to sum up someone's work into a few catchy phrases, that's not actually the goal here; it's more like presenting snap shots from Vonnegut's collected works, bits that, really, he did say better than anyone else ever has or ever will. Each passage is thought-provoking, evokotive of his humanism, cynicism, and humor.

Even before seeing this article I'd been thinking that this summer would be a good time for me to read all of Vonnegut's novels. I've read a few...
Slaughterhouse-5 a couple times, Mother Night, Cat's Cradle (but ages ago!) and maybe even Galapagos. Oh, and I saw a really weird film version of Breakfast of Champions (I think I rented it at the time because it starred Bruce Willis--you have to see it to believe it). But the most recent of these readings was senior year of high school. I think I'm in a place now where, given my interests, studies, and hopes for the future, I could really enjoy these books.

One of my favorite insights from the Onion article was this:

"Vonnegut touchstones like life on Tralfamadore and the absurd Bokononist religion don't help people escape the world so much as see it with clearer reason..."

Ideally, I would like to do something similar with my writing. Science fiction and fantasy does not just have to be escapism (though perhaps escapism, too, has its place)--it can also teach us about ourselves and the world we live in, and what kind of world we'd like it to be (and I don't just mean one with dragons and/or flying cars).

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