Thursday, April 12, 2007

God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. died yesterday, age 84. Although he probably wouldn't agree, it was much too soon. I got to see Vonnegut speak once at the UW. It was wonderful, but once is not nearly enough.

One of my favorite bits is from Deadeye Dick in which the title character is lured out of hibernation and into an opera. The heroine of the opera, trapped in a glass case from which the oxygen is slowly being sucked, opens her mouth to begin her death-aria. At this point, Dick stands up and shouts, "You'd last a lot longer if you don't try to sing." I love that.

My other favorite Vonnegut moment is the story he told about the world's greatest practical joke. A couple of guys bought a park bench exactly like the benches in Central Park in NYC. They walked around the park, periodically being stopped by cops who thought they were stealing the bench. Each time, they produced their receipt and graciously accepted the apologies. After they'd seen and been stopped by every cop in the park, they stole all the benches. They made a big pile of them somewhere in the park, carrying them to a sort of elephant graveyard for benches right under the nose of the law. This story is likely totally apocryphal, but it's so plausible as to be almost believeable, and I love it anyway.

He also told about the world's dirtiest limerick. It's awful. I'll tell you the story, but you have to promise not to tell my mother. Or yours.

I like to think that Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams are in some sort of Writers' Heaven right now, drunk, presumably trying to cheer up Spalding Gray and talk Hunter S. Thompson down off the ceiling.

Poo tee weet.

1 comment:

NuclearToast said...

Please be careful when you light that remembrance candle in the "Vonnegut" section of your personal library. I know you love the guy, but I'd hate to see you or your cherished books of his go up like Richard Pryor.