Monday, May 30, 2016

Fates Worse than Death by Kurt Vonnegut

Aside from reviewing this book, which is really nothing more than a collection of previously-published essays, I want to share how this book made me feel. 

I love Vonnegut. Sirens of Titan, Galapagos, and so many others are up there with my all-time favorites, so it was saddening to be told, by the author himself, that he just isn't invigorated by being a writer. It simply pays the bills and his books are so out there because he's clinically depressed. 

The essays are all over the place and are interesting enough - covering war, conservation, bits of Vonnegut's own life - all the biggies that appear in his fiction. He really has been around long enough to have met everybody. His name-dropping throughout surprised me more than once, but again, why did he not love what he wrote? Why did it seem to do nothing for him that his books blow people's minds? 

I realize Vonnegut must have been a very complex person, and it's not like I can go and ask him all the why's that bubbled up after reading this book. Not only was his life full of so many different situations, his mental state affected his interpretations of the world around him, and he saw a lot of messed up stuff. Yet, I had hoped his non-fiction would bring me closer to him as a writer than I feel like I already am because of his fiction. As a writer myself, seeing inside the mind of writers I admire has always been such a special experience. This book didn't do that. He may be the first writer who I feel is completely unattached to his writing.

Mostly, Vonnegut reminds me of an older version of my Dad, born into my grandfather's generation, but imbued with the lack of trust in the world around them. I just don't know what I think of him now, but I refuse to let it lead me to love his works any less. 

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