These are usually GC’s specialty — these and the repurposed GG Allin pictures and everything else; I do the Royals every now and then, pretty much — but I thought it was worth mentioning Kurt Vonnegut’s passing. Much more significant things will be written about Vonnegut — and by people far more accomplished than I — than that he was the first real stylistic influence on a seldom-published journalist, very occasional blog poster and would-be novelist. But Vonnegut was the first writer I remember reading and being awed and inspired by, by the breadth of his humanity and humor. He made writing novels look like a worthwhile and rewarding endeavor, and made reading (pardon the cliche) fun. I suspect a lot of other writers and readers owe their literary lives to the fact that someone recommended Cat’s Cradle or Slaughterhouse-Five.
Vonnegut wasn’t writing novels anymore by the time of his death, but what he wrote is enough. And he was great in Back to School (and, in a totally wordless cameo, the slept-on adaptation of Mother Night). It’s a lot to fit on a tombstone, and it’s been repeated enough times that it’s cliche at this point, but he wrote a good epitaph for his own aesthetic and worldview in 1965’s God Bless You Mr. Rosewater:
“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies ” ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ “
Rest in peace.