Thursday, April 12, 2007

memories of kurt vonnegut

Photo: Jill Krementz

I was technically a sophomore when I finally made my way to the University of Minnesota, though I tend to pretend like I didn't spend that year in my hometown, confused and heartbroken after my first Very Serious Relationship ended. I faced Minnesota with new hopes and plans; I had been feeling awfully dejected and mopey, so this was my blank slate start.

I enrolled in a course in honors studies in narrative with Peter Reed, who studied Vonnegut closely and knew him. He had a kind manner and a clipped British accent and would take students to England in a winter term course. I was told by a close friend of mine that Vonnegut based a character on Professor Reed, though I can't remember which one. We read Player Piano and Slaughter-House Five and I loved them both and was amazed at how different they were in narrative (fitting for the course). A paraprofessional at my school is now going through Vonnegut's books; I'm not sure if he's aware of the author's passing.

I am always sad when a writer dies; part of it is indeed that selfish impulse to say, "What about those novels / poems / plays / etc. s/he had not yet written?" What was left inside that never came out? At their time of death--Plath, Sexton, so soon and sudden--Fitzgerald, Hemingway--did they have something left to give to the world? I am sad, too, because the world can seem like a place short with admirable people, easily said after a nightly news break. I think the world's writers are the world's heroes, and I wish Vonnegut and all who loved him thoughts of peace.

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