Thursday, April 12, 2007

Remembering Kurt Vonnegut

Far be it from me to be the only book blogger not to book blog about Kurt Vonnegut. I haven't read much of his work - Slaughterhouse Five, and it's been awhile, so I can't really write intelligently about it. I remember Player Piano better - very good dystopian future stuff. I saw him speak once when I was at Indiana University. I was dating this guy who was kind of all into appearances. And he had something else to do, but he wanted to pop in to the lecture by Vonnegut, probably just to say he'd been there. And I wanted to hang out with him, so even though I didn't know who Vonnegut was, I went along. It was in the IU auditorium, which is quite large, and Vonnegut (a Hoosier!) was up on stage all alone, all tweedy and beardy - he couldn't look more like a writer if he tried. The audience was packed. The appearances boyfriend got up to leave after five or ten minutes, but I was so enthralled with Vonnegut I hardly noticed him leave.

I'm putting Breakfast of Champions and Cat's Cradle on my mental to-read list.

Here's an audio of one of his lectures - this is from around the time I saw him speak. And here's a more recent lecture where he lays the hammer down on conservatives.

In other book news - just heard today that Michael Chabon has a new book coming out (May 1, 2007), The Yiddish Policemen's Union. I hope it's half as good as The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

I've been reading Middlemarch since - oh - December. I don't know when it's taken me so long to read one book. In my defence, it's dense, it's over 800 pages, and it was written two centuries ago. I'm loving it, but I keep thinking, wow, there's so many books to read, and this one's taking so long. It reminds me of this thing I heard Zadie Smith say once, that she thought it was better to know one book really well than to have read tons of books. That book for her was Howard's End, upon which she based On Beauty. Maybe one day I'll write a masterpiece based on Middlemarch.

I did break down and start reading another book at the same time - The Other Side of You, by Salley Vickers. So far so good, but two things annoy me. 1) It's shrink-sploitation, which I'm not really into and 2) it's written by a woman, but the POV is a man. Yelch. I really didn't intend to start it in the middle of Middlemarch, but I ordered it from England (why do they get paperbacks before we do?) with my Harry Potter, and they mailed it early.


Kathy said...

Aha!! But do you know that Chabon has recently released a (meaty) work of children's fiction? Yes sir! I was very happy to present it to a favorite third grader yesterday. God; I hope she'll let me borrow it when she's finished!!

As for Middlemarch, congratulations on getting through at any rate. I absolutely loved the story line when I watched on a PBS serial...I may have even purchased it. I have two books going that I haven't picked up in a couple of weeks (oh that wicked sudoku...) and a growing pile of other must-reads. If it goes too long between my own blog posts you may all expect to find me crushed to death under the weight of them all...

Kathy said...

BTW---if you haven't read Chabon's earlier work "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" you're missing out. To me it was better than Kavalier and Clay.

He's a local boy, you know. From the prototype community (Columbia, MD) that Stepford Wives was most likely drawn from. Eerie.

Special K said...

Do you mean Summerland or The Final Solution? Although, was the Final Solution billed for kids? In any event, I thought Final Solution was amazing, and I tried to read Summerland but, for the life of me, cannot get into anything that much about baseball.

Yes, I do love The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and also Wonder Boys (as well as the movie!)

I've head the Middlemarch (I thought it was bbc?) series was great - I'll have to check it out one day. Good luck with your sudoku! I've fought that addiction myself.

Kathy said...

Yes, BBC; you are correct.

You obviously know your Chabon too well for me to comment further!!