Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mourning the Passing of A Great Author

Newspapers around the world yesterday reported the death of writer Kurt Vonnegut at the age of 84.

His books such as Cat's Cradle, Breakfast of Champions, and Slaughterhouse-Five faced many challenges over the years, likely for their dark, satiric humour.

The Columbus Dispatch describes his novels as "classics of the American counterculture" and go on to compare his humour to that of Mark Twain.
Like Mark Twain, Vonnegut used humor to tackle the basic questions of human existence: Why are we in this world? Is there a presiding figure to make sense of all this, a god who in the end, despite making people suffer, wishes them well?
He also shared with Twain a profound pessimism.

He was the author of 14 novels and wrote in other genres as well.

His experience of the fire bombing of Dresden during the war was the basis of Slaughterhouse-Five, which was published in 1969, just as America was experiencing the war in Vietnam, racial unrest, and other social upheaval. It struck a chord with American society. The author became a cult hero when Slaughterhouse-Five became a best seller. It was challenged in schools and public libraries for its violence, sexual content and rough language. Vonnegut took on censorship as an active member of the PEN writers' aid group and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Boing Boing offers a podcast of the very first reading of Breakfast of Champions by the author.

A number of people who are signed up for the "Banned Book Challenge" are moving the order of their books or adding a Kurt Vonnegut book to their list, in honour of his passing.

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