One of my favourite people died yesterday in New York. This time it was not someone that I was close to personally, or indeed even knew. This time it was a man that I have intensely admired since my first introduction to his work 25 years ago. When Cousin Sara J made me write a literary meme last August, it was his greatest novel, Slaughterhouse Five, that I named as the one book that had changed my life.
For as long as I have known of him and known his writing, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. has been an inspiring force for me. He had an uncommon view of the world and he taught me that I could laugh at its absurdities whilst at the same time despairing over its injustices and cruelties. His writing was original and funny and daring and passionate.
I was lucky enough to hear Vonnegut speak in person once in Berkeley. He stood in front of about 60 people and just explained his view of the world, with chalkboard illustrations. And he talked about Cinderella. I remember that he spoke just like he wrote.
And today I am sad simply because Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. is no longer in the world.