Had one of those transatlantic (twelve hours of sunset) opportunities to get a bit of reading in last week, a week in Boston. (Incidentally encountered Steven Pinker in the hotel bar, though left him undisturbed deep in conversation with another, having just explained he was my second favourite evolutionary psychology / linguistic philosopher, after Dan Dennett whose Dangerous Idea I had just recently finished re-reading.) Anyway, departing Gardermoen, I picked-up a double anthology of Kurt Vonnegut, his “Welcome to the Monkey House” and “Palm Sunday” collections of short stories, articles, speeches and auto-biographical sketches.
Wonderful stuff, such varied material with such uniform wit. From the Mills-n-Boon-esque piece entitled “Long Walk to Forever” by the women’s magazine that published what turns out to be the true story of how KV met his future wife, to the sci-fi offerings of “The Barnhouse Effect” and “The Euphio Question”. Lots of material drawn from his Cape Cod home experience, the scripted romance of “Who Am I This Time” and the wonderful punchline to “The Hyannis Port Story”
Apart from the intriguing family-life back-story to his own biography, my favourites are the “Nazi Sympathizer Defended At Some Cost” (Celine) and its counterpoint “Nazi City Mourned At Some Profit” (Dresden – the subject of best-selling “Slaughterhouse Five”). Turns out my Vonnegut readings, all since his death last year, Cat’s Cradle and the latter he rates as his 5 out of 5 efforts. Blogged reviews of both. A lasting impression of Slaughterhouse Five is “So it goes …” as individuals die along the way, but I hadn’t noticed the “…” and affectation of my own punctuation I seem to have avoided so far …
Turns out to have been a feature KV had picked-up from Louis Ferdinand Celine … someone new (1894 – 1961) to add to my reading list.