Vonnegut was born a German American in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was a Chemistry major at Cornell up until he became a prisoner of war. Being a prisoner of WWII his job was to gather up corpses for mass burial for the Nazis. As if his experience in the war was not enough his life seemed to be a steady flow of tragedy. Despite, the trials and tribulations of death (strange deaths. look into it it’s a little crazy. Much like a book itself.), divorce, bombings, and fire he crafted a long list of finely worded if not pure golden stories. It is no surprise that a life like Vonnegut’s would form a unique way at looking at the universe. The talent comes in being able to put those views into words and on paper to be related to, by all who is lucky enough to indulged themselves into his work.
Adding to his achievements we can say he got a M.A. in Anthropology from The University of Chicago. He was awarded this degree after using Cat’s Cradle as a thesis. His first thesis was dismissed as being “unprofessional.”* He was a professor, a SAAB dealer, “a skeptic, a freethinker, a humanist, a Unitarian Universalist, an agnostic, and a atheist.”* He even has an asteroid named after him. Not to mention his brother could make it rain and yes, he was in the film Back To School.
I find it humorous that a veteran seems to prefer Armistice Day to our now standard Veteran’s Day. In the pages of Breakfast of Champions Vonnegut writes, “November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. All the people of all the nations who fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to men who were on the battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.”… “Armistice Day has become Veteran’s Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veteran’s Day is not. So I will throw Veteran’s Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things. What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance. And all music”- Philboyd Studge
Kurt Vonnegut died April 11, 2007 at the age of 84. To add to the accidental life of Vonnegut, he wrote that his alter ego Kilgore Trout would die at the age of 84. So from here on out on top of celebrating Veteran’s Day we should all have a minute of silence followed directly by a Pall Mall and an open discussion about the glory of Kilgore Trout. Vonnegut said smoking Pall Mall was a “classy way to commit suicide.” Could you imagine dieing from Marlboro Lights? I wouldn’t wish that on my worse enemy. I will now take it upon myself to say that the 11th minute can be in the 23rd or the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
In closing I would like to wish Kurt Vonnegut a happy birthday, all of you a happy Armistice Day, and a thank you all of those who fight and those who died, so I don’t have to.
-Cap’n Clet "If I should die, let this be my epitaph: his only proof for the existence of God was music.”- Kurt Vonnegut
* Vonnegut's words not credited in this blog log
Player Piano (1952)
The Sirens of Titan (1959)
Mother Night (1961)
Cat's Cradle (1963)
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater; or, Pearls before Swine (1965)
Slaughterhouse-Five; or, The Children's Crusade (1969)
Breakfast of Champions; or, Goodbye Blue Monday (1973)
Slapstick; or, Lonesome No More (1976)
Deadeye Dick (1982)
Hocus Pocus (1990)
Collections of short stories and essays
Canary in a Cathouse (1961)
Welcome to the Monkey House: A Collection of Short Works (1968)
Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons (1974)
Palm Sunday (1981)
Fates Worse than Death (1991)
Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction (1999)
God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian (1999)
A Man Without a Country (2005)
Armageddon in Retrospect (2008, posthumous)