-- Frederick Buechner
Why I like Kurt
I found a Kurt Vonnegut Jr. book on the paperback rack at a local library when I was 18 or so (my back water high school didn't teach him, Salinger or others of their kind...).
I picked up BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS merely because I'd heard the name Vonnegut somewhere & was curious. The first couple chapters left me wondering who is this wild man, this blasphemer of my sheltered small town truths? It spent a lot of time on the floor of my car. I'd read a few pages, laugh, under-line and throw it to the floor again.
I've never been the same.
I think I'm happy about that.
I went on in the next few months to read everything of his in print at that time. I even found a copy of "Canary In A Cathouse", a Dell paperback original of 12 Vonnegut short stories (all but one of which ended up in "Welcome to the Monkeyhouse"). It reportedly went in and out of print so fast that even Kurt never got a copy. I found it at a Milford, Ohio library book sale for a dime back in '83 or so after a few years of looking. The librarian didn't share my excitement. She smiled sternly at my noisy whispers of joy and handed me my change.
My early adulthood had by then been shaped by Vonnegut's humor, sadness and resignation...
And hope - at least it seemed to me.
Hope in spite of it all. But a weary hope. A hope weathered and kicked and dented. Still of use, though sometimes unattractive. Like a rusted old Nova that still starts every morning. Like a 50-year-old galvanized trash can with a decent lid in a backyard full of raccoons.
I really loved PALM SUNDAY. Good insights into the person behind the books.
One thing I took from his book that has stuck with me & affected my outlook: This from Palm Sunday:
"...Bob & Ray's characters threaten to wreck themselves and their surroundings with their own stupidity. There is a refreshing and beautiful innocence in Bob's and Ray's humor.I tend to believe that, too....
I also remember him saying something about: "If not love, at least common decency".
Thank you for that, especially, Kurt.