Vonnegut passing hits home | VailDaily.com

Vonnegut passing hits home

Charlie Owen
Vail CO, Colorado

“Influential author Vonnegut dies at 84”

I feel like that headline should have stopped the earth in its tracks.

Fortunately, the world moves on even when genius is taken from us.

It is not often that I feel a connection with someone I have never met, but in the case of Kurt Vonnegut I feel like I have lost a brother, a soul-mate.

Ever since I first read Slaughter House Five I could never read enough Vonnegut. He spoke with the same conviction and honesty as a prophet without ever passing judgment. I began to read his works with eager enthusiasm, often finishing an entire novel in just one sitting.

It was easy to relate to his philosophies and views on modern society, cultural misunderstandings, politics, the human condition, religion and faith, and the human race’s self-destructive tendencies.

It was comforting to know that somebody out there felt the same way I did, was concerned about the same issues, and questioned the same absolutes that kept me up at night. It was as if he had climbed into my brain one night with a flashlight and crawled around for hours through cobwebs and creaky boards, writing down everything he observed with loving care and thoughtful prose.

But Vonnegut did more than just inspire me, he changed the face of writing in the 20th century. His works spoke to entire generations and will continue to do so long after his departing. Mixing science fiction, dark satire, and social commentary, he produced novels and short stories which were easy to read yet deeply layered and strongly developed.

Because of his humanist beliefs, characters in his novels were rarely portrayed as good and evil, but instead it was the circumstances and outside forces which were viewed as catalysts for human behavior. His experiences in World War II also figured highly into much of his work, and his disdain for war and violence became the foundation for many of his plot devices and characters.

Regardless of your views on the issues he wrote about, each of his books contain interesting characters, plots, and conflicts, and can be thoroughly enjoyed by anyone.

Vonnegut was one of a kind, in the truest sense of meaning. He left behind a treasure trove of literature and an enduring legacy that will hopefully inspire and ignite the passions of future and present writers and readers alike. It is indeed a sad day for anyone who has been affected by him, whether personally or through his work, but… so it goes.

God bless you, Mr. Vonnegut, and farewell.

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