Thursday, November 5, 2015

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut

November 11, 1922 brought the unsuspecting world Kurt Vonnegut. He didn’t have much to say initially, but as time progressed he proved to be a brilliant author, thinker, & master of satire, dark humor, & pointed social commentary. This November 11 would be his 93rd birthday. I’d like to celebrate with a tiny slice of what he had to say.

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.
Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be.
I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.
Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.

I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles. So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.
Make love when you can. It’s good for you.

The universe is a big place, perhaps the biggest.

Oh, and then there’s Slaughterhouse-Five, Welcome to the Monkey House, Cat’s Cradle, Breakfast of Champions, Player Piano, A Man Without a Country, & a stunning & steaming heap of essays, articles, short stories and novels.

Have a favorite Vonnegut work or quote? Please leave it in the comments section.

Big thanks to this week’s sources: Curated Quotes,, The Christian Science Monitor, Karen Cushman, & NPR. Image from


  1. My favorite Vonnegut book is Deadeye Dick. A commentary on parenting and American society told through the story of a man still reeling from an accidental manslaughter he commited as a child. I spent the Summer after my first year of college reading every Vonnegut I could get my hands on.

  2. Marveloso - that's one of the few KV titles I haven't read yet. I'll have to get it onto the burgeoning list.

  3. Bluebeard is my second favorite. It was the first book I read by him. I finished it and immediately went to the closest used book store.

  4. Hey, Charlie, have to admit I cheated. Found a lot of good KV quotes online. My fav. book of his is Slaughterhouse Five and I have a leather-bound copy Bob's mom gave me as a gift. Here's a great quote from it: "He is in a constant state of stage fright, he says, because he never knows what part of his life he is going to have to act in next."
    - Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 2
    Love his writing but I've not read a lot of it. I think some short stories a long time ago. Maybe. Great topic. Paul

  5. Hey again Heather & hello Paul,
    Wow. Bluebeard is another one I haven't read. Thanks, Paul for the quote. One of my favorite KV short stories is titled "DP" which is apparently military-ese for "Displaced Person". It takes place in the American Zone of Occupation in Germany just after WWII & is a beautifully hopeful piece of work.

  6. I've read them all, and Vonnegut is probably my favorite author of all time. But I think my favorite is still the Sirens of Titan, the first Vonnegut I ever read. I loved the Harmoniums, the kite-like creatures who live in the caves of Mercury and half of them spend their lives saying "Here I am" and the other half say "There you are."

    And the hero learned from them: "A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved."

    Vonnegut isn't always so positive of course. I love his darkness too. Another of my favorite quotes is: "The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart."

  7. Hey Anne,
    Thanks for two great quotes. I hadn't seen the second, & it reads like Vonnegut x2. Thanks.

  8. I still love Player Piano best because it was my first. So prescient re: Ronald Reagan. "So it goes."