Thursday, July 24, 2008

(Mis)Adventures with Kurt Vonnegut

I read a lot today. A lot of Kurt Vonnegut, to be precise. I first encountered this author during my road trip from LA to San Francisco in April 2007. Ethan Hawke read The Slaughterhouse Five on audio CD. I was distracted, of course, driving--but I recall it being a pleasant experience. And so it goes.
Today, I finished A Man Without a Country in a few hours. It started off with the wry humor and smugness that I always like to think I'll be able to accomplish myself some day. But then it turned into a bitter rant against the country. While still humorous at times (my favorite quote: "The last thing I ever wanted was to be alive when the three most powerful people on the whole planet would be named Bush, Dick and Colon") the whole thing smacked so much of bitterness that towards the end I could hardly choke it down.

George Bush is an asshole.
No one should own guns.
The earth is going to catch on fire at any given moment because of our consumption of fossil fuels.
The world is going to hell in a handbasket.
Oh yeah, and America sucks.

I was annoyed and disappointed to read this "great American author" and because it was reminiscent of a whiny student paper--moaning and complaining about the injustices of the world and life without offering a fingernail of support. There's no solution proposed. Its just bitching. Save it for your blog.
Well, that's just what I did (obviously).

The Vonnegut scenario continues because, as it happens, I checked out two of his books from the library. What do you do when you're disgusted with an author? Read another one of his books! I figured that Cat's Cradle was published 1973...maybe he wasn't as curmudgeony then. Gaw. This one has more of a plot line, so its not just spewing out raw bitter. There's a lot of random aliens, and insanity, and I'm liking it better. Still. He's so angry, so negative...I don't know how much more I can take of it. I'm not saying that the man doesn't come across a solid point every now and again, its just all the garbage inbetween.

He's such a fad. He's so that guy at the coffeehouse who chainsmokes and wears black turtlenecks and always looks around with disdain at the people who put cream or sugar in their coffee. He's that guy who's always preaching about some cause and rolling his eyes at you that you haven't heard about the rampant anthill burning on 12th st, or some other such disgrace to humankind. And yet, in all his disgust for the human race, he manages to spend a lot of time talking about "Wide Open Beavers" as if that's helping anything. Ass.

Ick. What drove me even more crazy was the bit in A Man without a Country when he goes over fan mail. What kind of fans do you have, who write this: "I'd love to know your thoughts for a woman of 43 who is finally going to have a child but is wary of bringing a new life into such a frightening world." Please. You're 43, and pregnant for the first time. Write the guy who talks about upskirt shots and women with their legs splayed wide open, cos he's your last hope for true human dignity.

I dunno. I'm mad because Vonnegut is supposed to be so "cool" and all the hipsters who don't read books like to read his books. And this is all he's got? Whining? Give me a break.

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