Friday, April 13, 2007

He Told the Truth, Mostly

I used to watch Kurt Vonnegut at a bus stop on 47th and Third. He would hang out, watching people and I watched him. I never approached the man, never spoke to him. I can tell you that he moved like a sloth. Deliberately, slowly and it was maddening how little movement you sometimes got out of him on any given lunch hour that I spied him at that bus stop.

I happened to be in Manhattan yesterday. I stopped by the bus stop to pay my respects.

Vonnegut had a tremendous influence on my life. I read Palm Sunday in high school. It was the first Vonnegut novel I read and I think I shall re-read it now. It's one of the only ones that I've read once. All the others are dog-eared. I kept reading him in college, even though none of the courses I took required his books. Rather, as an enormously shy, long haired solitary kid who had the socialization skills of a rock, I spent hours at the college train station reading Vonnegut. When I wasn't fantasizing about getting on the next train home, I was in his world, figuring out what he was trying to tell me or not as the case may be. Mr. Vonnegut had a bent for encouraging self discovery and independent thought.

Couple of things that have stayed with me from Vonnegut:

-describing the blood of army scouts turning snow to cherry slush.
-Sally in the garden, sifting cinders, lifted up her leg and farted like a man. The bursting of her bloomers broke sixteen winders and the cheeks of her ass went (you need your hands now).
-A love of Twain.
-His Indiana accent that was like a bandsaw cutting galvanized tin.
-Being merciless. If a phrase or sentence does not illuminate or describe your subject in a new and unique way, scratch it out.

I disagreed with the man fervently in later years. A written response to one of his tomes, emailed back to the friend who emailed it to me cost me that friendship. I haven't heard from Marty since.

Too bad. I think for myself and I stick to my guns. Vonnegut would have despised me but respected me all the same and I him. So it goes.

Goodbye Kurt. And thanks. When I crawled out of my freshman shell at college and traded your books for a beer glass and friends, they used to say to me that they thought I was some super intelligent grad student immersed in serious work taking time out for intellectual exercise at the train station.

How's that for foma?

Bunny on.


Blogger Sis said...

1) Sometimes living by the untruths is our only option; 2) Our friends often have better vision than we do.

11:13 AM  

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