Absolute Vonnegut! : Forum : Eulogies--Your thoughts on how..

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Eulogies--Your thoughts on how K.V. affected you.

14 Years Ago

As soon as I heard that he had died, a flood of memories came crashing in. This is what I wrote. What did others have to say?

In 9th grade, my English teacher, John VanLooy, lent me a battered paperback copy of Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut. Reading it, I was reminded of how much I loved to read as a young kid -- a love that had almost been stamped out of me by years of forced reading for school. Since that book, I've been a book junkie, always in the middle of at least three books and having a library of over a thousand titles (and this from the guy who used to have a goal of being able to fit all my belongings in a backpack).

But that first book also introduced me to one of my favorite authors. I soon read nearly everything by Vonnegut, my favorites being Bluebeard, Breakfast of Champions, Slaughterhouse 5, and Mother Night. ... Oh, yeah, and Jailbird.

I had the chance to see Vonnegut speak in East Lansing years ago. He was funny, profound, beautiful, powerful, and as good as his best writing. I'll always remember two things from his presentation. The first was when he defined an angel as a decent person in an indecent world. And then closed his speech by challenging us to be angels.

The second was his answer to the question, "Which of your books is your favorite?"

Without a pause, he said, "The Sirens of Titan is the best thing I've ever written."

This was one I'd never read. It seemed too "science-fictiony" for my tastes. But after that endorsement, I had to read it.

In Sirens of Titan, there is a race of creatures whose language only consists of two words: one that means "Here I am" and the other "So glad you are." These creatures continuously speak these words back and forth to each other to the point that they merge into one sentiment: "I am so glad you are here."

Kurt Vonnegut
Born November 11, 1922
Died April 11, 2007
Rest well. I am so glad you were here.