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R.I.P., Kurt Vonnegut

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The New York Times reports that Kurt Vonnegut died tonight at age 84.

I had no idea until I read that obituary that Vonnegut was the author of the sf story "Report on the Barnhouse Effect," which had a huge impact on me as a kid; I still remember it pretty clearly, even most of its penultimate sentence, about 30 years after last encountering it. But I hadn't remembered who the author was. I certainly never knew it was Vonnegut's first published story.

I liked a fair tad bit of his other work, too, of course.

Anyway. I'm sorry to see him go.

I suspect that there will be two things in common among the majority of the articles and blog postings about Vonnegut's death:

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I have rarely felt more comfortable in this world than when reading Kurt Vonnegut's books. When I was a young man, his books left me with the feeling that I had to be a writer too, that there were things I needed to say and truths I needed to reveal, that I could find a way to do it. I did not know then what all those things and truths would be, or what shape and sound my voice would grow, but here I am so many years later with a long list of books and articles and . . . Kurt Vonnegut is one of the people to whom I owe so much for what has evolved. I wrote him a letter once and he replied with a little typed post card. It is here now in this room, framed below a picture I grabbed from the net of KV, and remains one of the prized possessions of my life. I heard about his death while trying to sleep with an ear plug whispering BBC news to me . . . and got up to join the world in bidding fare thee well to a spirit that inspired so many people. And I am one of them. "It ends like this: Poo-tee-weet."

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