Kurt Vonnegut is gone. And with him goes a swath of wisdom and uncompromised morality that literature probably will not see again for a generation or two. He was, I’m convinced, the reincarnation of Mark Twain: down to those puffy hangdog pockets beneath their eyes, the perpetual wreath of smoke, the curling hair, and the deep-set wrinkles of men whose eyes have looked too long at eternity, and seen eternity look back. They talked alike. They talked real witty.
“Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.”
Are those the words of a cruel man? Or the words of a brutally honest man? Because he’s the same man who famously wrote “Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ ”
That, folks, was a statement that required courage for a man who witnessed first-hand the bombing of Dresden, whose own faith in the goodness of human nature was thin as a whistle at the best of times, but dogged him all his days.