Under the Influence of Books Pt.2

If I were probed further on my background as a reader, I’d have to list Kurt Vonnegut. I own several first editions and have re-read several favorites from his catalog.

Positives: he develops a running theme through his novels and essays, one of community, belonging and extended family. In Cat’s Cradle, it was the karass of bokononism, a notion that kindred spirits with a common destiny or vision must be assembled and maintained. In Slapstick, the last President of the United States assigned government-issued middle names. Everyone with the same middle name becomes sort-of related, creating an extended community of man.

One real bummer for me is that his books’ style of delivery changed dramatically from the dense, ponderous columns of Player Piano to the heavily-illustrated, anecdotal Man Without a Country. I really enjoy his middling years and consider his later works a light read. The sheer heaviness conveyed by the earlier books’ design scares me off.

Ironically, I have a photo of the afore-mentioned favorite author Daniel Pinkwater having dinner with Vonnegut. Also they’re both Laurel and Hardy fans.


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