Sunday, April 22, 2007


By Luis A. García

On April 11th 2007, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. died in New York city. Some part of me thought he never would, so it goes. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. had seven children, three of whom he adopted after his beloved sister Alice died of cancer and just two days after her husband died in an accident in 1958. He also had three children by his first wife, Jane Marie Cox and adopted one more child in 1982 with his second wife Jill Krementz. He studied biochemistry at Cornell University and received his M.A. in anthropology in 1972 from the University of Chicago after Cat’s Cradle was published and was accepted as his dissertation in anthropology. He believed there was no need to leave stories to the English majors and encouraged his scientific minded extended family to express themselves in art without yielding to any idea of literary or artistic orthodoxy.
By far he is not the only Vonnegut or Lieber (his mother’s maiden name) in the colorful history of his family to leave a mark and a legacy to humanity. From the first caffeinated beer, to German Nobility, hardware kings, architects, they are a long line of self described free thinkers. His children and wives have been no less extraordinary. They illustrate this through their books, art, photographs and acting. The subject of his family history and himself is one that Kurt Vonnegut Jr. shared with his readers. By becoming acquainted with the plays, doodles, paintings and short stories of Kurt Vonnegut Jr. one is able to experience something most rare, meeting a man from start to finish.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. had become the honorary president of the American Humanist Association in 1992 when his friend and well known novelist Isaac Asimov, the former president died. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. spoke at Isaac’s funeral. He had this to say:

"Being a humanist means that you try to behave as decently, as honorably, as you can without any expectation of rewards or punishments in an afterlife. When we had a memorial service for Isaac a few years back, I spoke at it and said at one point, 'Isaac is up in heaven now'. It was the funniest thing I could think of to say to an audience of humanists. Believe me, it worked - I rolled them in the aisles. If I should ever die, god forbid, I hope people will say, 'Kurt is up in heaven now'. That's my favorite joke."

So Kurt is up in heaven now, talking it up with Saint Peter at the pearly gates along with so many of his favorite fellow human beings. And he’d like you to remember that “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.” So it goes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a fine tribute to one of my favorite writes. I am sure he has influenced you as he has many of us. Kurt Vonnegut is probably laughing like crazy at the Hevenly Kingdom, saying: I can't believe I really got here. "So it goes."