Friday, April 13, 2007

Goodbye Blue Monday

Nevermind that "Blue Monday" is the title of a really great New Order song. What I refer to is the subtitle of Breakfast of Champions by the truly wonderful Kurt Vonnegut, one of my very favourite authors, who died Wednesday. I have several thoughts about this somber event:

1) Often I reflect on some of my most admired famous people and think, "I'm going to be so sad when he/she dies," and I have thought exactly this about Kurt Vonnegut. And there I was Wednesday night: I let my class out at 9:45 and decided to check my e-mail (that compulsive pasttime). I glanced briefly at the MSN home page and saw the words "author" and "died" and of course I needed to know who it was. I saw his name and, out loud in the empty classroom, gasped and said, "Oh no!"

1.1) People talk about "Where were you when _____ happened?" When John F. Kennedy was shot...when the Challenger exploded...when you found out about the terrorist attacks of September 11...I remember looking at the front page of the L.A. Times and reading that Allen Ginsberg had died--1997, the year I got my bachelor's degree. I remember a similar scenario when I read that Douglas Adams had died. Now I can announce the world where I was when I found out that Kurt Vonnegut died.

2) I take his death very seriously, even in a sort of jealous manner. Gregory told me of someone at work who was "devastated" that Kurt Vonnegut had died and I immediately thought, "No, he's mine. He's mine to be sad about." Of course that is ridiculous. I take no ownership of his death, not when he certainly has so many loved ones who can do that too easily.

3) I'm looking at all these wonderful, completely beautiful books on my shelf: Breakfast of Champions, Timequake, Slaughterhouse-Five, The Sirens of Titan, Galapagos, Cat's Cradle, no particular order. I read The Sirens of Titan in high school. I read Breakfast of Champions last year.

4) Kurt Vonnegut reminded me of my late professor, Dr. Tom Massey, who reminded me of my late father. It's very odd to think that, if one believes in an afterlife and the basic goodness of humans, the three of them could be chatting in heaven right now. I feel like asking my dad to get Kurt Vonnegut's autograph.

5) I'm not sure, but I think my weekly Borders e-mail said they were having a special sale on his books. If this is true, I will be capitalizing on his death when I go in to buy Mother Night, which I've just learned was one of Vonnegut's favorites among his novels. If this is not true, forgive me.

That is all I will say on the subject, lest I begin to sound again hoity-toity. But Kurt Vonnegut was one of the very few living authors I have deigned to read, which has to have some significance in my own little world. It amazes me, as it has many times before, what genius God has put on this earth in the form of so many of our great artists. I will likely not become one of them, but I have my own deep love and respect for art, and that will do for now.

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