Yesterday Kurt Vonnegut, one of my favorite authors and a pillar my my upbringing, died. He was 84. I read my first Kurt Vonnegut book, Slapstick,  when I was in 5th grade. It was really amazing. I was quite a bit young for the book, but it was a great follow up to Catch-22. hah. I still remember Slapstick and think about it quite often.

~ hi ho ~

I think that is my Favorite Kurt Vonnegut book.

Kurt Vonnegut made quite the impact on me. My father was a big Vonnegut fan and recommended that I read his books constantly. As  grew older we were able to share the jokes, and the excitement of Vonnegut's novels. It was a great thing to share with your loved ones. I continue to push Kurt Vonnegut's books on to my friends and family as much as I can. His novels are always quirky and fun. They reminded me that life isn't always serious, even if serious things are happening.  The single biggest piece of knowledge I gleaned from his novels was the theme that we need to treat people well. His books were a great commentary on why more humanist values are needed in our world. If anyone is wondering what is wrong with the world, read a bundle of Kurt Vonnegut, a couple Studs Terkel and Joseph Heller's Catch-22. You will be set right.

I once was able to meet and speak a small amount with Kurt Vonnegut when he spoke at a school in the Chicago suburbs. He talked about humanism and being old. He mentioned how he felt a humanist funeral should be. It was very humorous. I took a picture of Kurt Vonnegut and me and gave it to my father.

In regards to death,  I feel that Kurt Vonnegut's version of death and afterlife is the closest to my own beliefs on the matter. In Studs Terkel's book "Will the Circle Be Unbroken? Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith," Studs interviews Vonnegut on death and Vonnegut says the following:

What the freethinkers were are now called humanists. I am one. A humanist believes, because of Darwin, whose truths were so shocking, in making the most use of good science as possible. Humanists behave well without any expectation of either reward or punishment in an afterlife. We serve, as best we can, our community. When I was growing up, nobody ever said anything about Heaven, about an afterlife. They said that this life was enough.

I have experienced what happens when I die, and so have you. We call it sleep.

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This is the basis for my beliefs and I feel is pretty much the basis for the humanist movement. You need to do good. right now. because you may not be here soon. and you may not be here tomorrow. and since there is no afterlife, this is the best and there is no waiting for the better to happen. so lets have fun and enjoy what we have!

“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ ”

- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (November 11, 1922 - April 11, 2007)

So it goes.

[tags]kurt vonnegut, authors, literature, death, sad, life, novels, books, growing up[/tags]