Saturday, May 05, 2007

Vonnegut died. So it goes.

Kurt Vonnegut is one of the most important discoveries I have ever made. Along with Mark Twain, Charles G. Finney, and to some degree Charles Dickens, Kurt Vonnegut influenced my eventual writing style more than anything else. I do hope it shows.

I was in the Navy, standing an engine room watch, when I discovered Slaughterhouse-Five stuck in an angle iron. It is one of the few books I have ever read cover to cover at one time. It grabbed me, pulled me in, and wouldn't let go until I finished it. I told the rover not to wake up my relief until I had finished the book.

I read everything Vonnegut had written, read everything he published, and continue to do so until we both got old and taste changed as is the way of men. I recognized immediately that Vonnegut was not a science fiction writer but a writer who used sci-fi as a vehicle for delivering an idea or message. His disjointed, non-flow style some how told a story. Looking back on my life, I sometimes feel as if I were a clueless Billy Pilgrim unstuck in time, and yet with simple wisdom that comes from the ages. If only it were true.

The style of writing in Slaughterhouse-Five, with its short sentences in short paragraphs with a line space between each paragraphs, blew me away. I fell in love with that style and have never left it entirely. It lends itself well to blogging.

I wonder if there is some young soldier stuck in the hell that is Iraq of good purpose and ideals whose temperament is being forged in ways they he or she will only appreciate years later. Will they share the results their experiences with us in some book or maybe even a posting in a blog?

Comparisons have been made here and elsewhere of Iraq and Vietnam. The Walter Reed neglect story is only the beginning – next comes the comparison of Iraqi vets with that of Vietnam vets.

So it goes.



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