Thursday, April 12, 2007

Author Kurt Vonnegut dies at 84


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In books such as "Slaughterhouse-Five," "Cat's Cradle," and "Hocus Pocus," Kurt Vonnegut mixed the bitter and funny with a touch of the profound..."He was sort of like nobody else," said fellow author Gore Vidal. "Kurt was never dull."

A self-described religious skeptic and freethinking humanist, Vonnegut used protagonists such as Billy Pilgrim and Eliot Rosewater as transparent vehicles for his points of view.

He lectured regularly, exhorting audiences to think for themselves and delighting in barbed commentary against the institutions he felt were dehumanizing people.

"He was a man who combined a wicked sense of humor and sort of steady moral compass, who was always sort of looking at the big picture of the things that were most important," said Joel Bleifuss, editor of In These Times, a liberal magazine based in Chicago that featured Vonnegut articles.

Some of Vonnegut's books were banned and burned for suspected obscenity. He took on censorship as an active member of the PEN writers' aid group and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The American Humanist Association, which promotes individual freedom, rational thought and scientific skepticism, made him its honorary president.

Vonnegut said the villains in his books were never individuals, but culture, society and history, which he said were making a mess of the planet.

"I like to say that the 51st state is the state of denial," he told The Associated Press in 2005. "It's as though a huge comet were heading for us and nobody wants to talk about it. We're just about to run out of petroleum and there's nothing to replace it."...

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Kurt Vonnegut’s novels
• “Player Piano,” 1952
• “The Sirens of Titan,” 1959
• “Mother Night,” 1962
• “Cat's Cradle,” 1963
• “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater,” 1965
• “Slaughterhouse-Five,” 1969
• “Breakfast of Champions,” 1973.
• “Slapstick,” 1976
• “Jailbird,” 1979 .
• “Deadeye Dick,” 1983
• “Gal├ípagos,” 1985
• “Bluebeard,” 1988
• “Hocus Pocus,” 1990
• “Three Complete Novels,” 1995
• “Timequake,” 1997

Source: “Contemporary Novel-
ists”

-- Compiled by (Indianapolis) Star library
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Mr. Vonnegut was one spark of light that originated in Indianapolis (my hometown). As painful as life may have been for him, at times, he was one who did make the most of it. And his writings will continue to provoke and inspire.

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