Monday, February 13, 2006

Kurt Vonnegut's A Man Without A Country

You know, the truth can be really powerful stuff. You're not expecting it.

Who needs a country, anyway?
Vannegut is in exile from all his country's ailments, but he still lives there, and I think always has, except for his brief residence in Slaghterhouse 5. He remains one of America's most enjoyable writers, no matter how crotchety his great age forces him to be. He's a bit younger than my parents. Like my father, a former car dealer.
Slaughterhouse 5 is but one of his books turned into fine films. Prague, standing in for Dresden in the film, so entranced me flowing through Glen Gould Bach rivers into incessant demand to bathe in its architecture that the god of cinematic hydrology demands that I must go there in some future time of rain.
Kurt comes to fiction, chug, clunk, zip from not just experience but through a scientific filtration. He cringes at being called a science fiction writer but cashes the checks anyway. He has been a comedian since he first started getting laughs. Now his tears have a comic touch. Now more institution than voice, anything we hear is like Lincoln's Statue opening his mouth and scaring Washington's pidgeons into an orgy of excrement that fills all the buildings and keeps bad laws from happening forever.
Vonnegut's country is his past, his attachment to place and people and incident, and those born not distant, on some media-soaked coast, but there in the heartland, where no tragedy could keep the corn from growing. His pessimism is flimsy. Curiosity still keeps its hooks on him. He delights in his life, though it fades before him. That corn keeps on growin.
The book is short. Vonnegut vaults into calligraphy; his always image-rich books again play with word/eye. For my aging eyes his large text was a blessing, but it sure made the book fill up fast. Ok, its the quality not the quanity, but still.
It is a sign of America's health that Kurt is still a voice in it. Not many famous moustaches left.


At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just yesterday read he passed on. I don't know this book, will probably read it all of his books were great, they may be better than that and feel we've lost another great writer and if his passing didn't get enough press maybe that is just as great a monument in that its a testament to the writer's power to convey his feeling and ideas though they were sometimes controversial the rest of us did take notice.


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