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Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

April 13, 2007

Some quick thoughts about the late, great Kurt Vonnegut Jr, who died a couple of days ago in New York at the age of 84. The New York Times published a thorough obit. Andrew Leonard also wrote a touching piece about the author in Salon.

1. I came to Vonnegut only a few years ago. My husband James introduced me to his novels when we first met. I don't think I've ever thought so much or laughed so hard at the same time as I did when I read Cat's Cradle and The Sirens of Titan. I felt my brain twang and water came out of my nose.

2. When thinking up concepts for James' future brewpub a few weeks ago, we decided to name each beer after a character or place in Vonnegut's novels. Look out for a Rosewater IPA and an Ice-Nine Stout. The bar itself will be called The Granfalloon Salloon.

3. The other day we attempted to make Cornish pasties according to a recipe from a British friend's aging aunt. Not only was the aunt's memory unreliable, but we also had to translate the UK grammes and kilos into US ounces and pounds. The resulting pasties were disgusting. We ended up picking out the meat and vegetable fillings (which were more or less edible) and discarding the pastry, which mounted up into a huge pile of yellow-gray rubble on a plate in the middle of the kitchen table. "It looks like the Firebombing of Dresden," said Jim. "It's a work of art. I wish Vonnegut were here to see it."

4. Vonnegut's last book, published in 2005, was a collection of biographical essays entitled A Man Without a Country. At the end of the book, there's a poem by Vonnegut called Requiem which ends like this:

When the last living thing
has died on account of us,
how poetical it would be
if Earth could say,
in a voice floating up
from the floor
of the Grand Canyon,
“It is done.”
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