Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
Man, this guy slays me. Not only is he a complete crack-up, but he distills things to an absurd level of simplicity that renders their mystery moot. What writer hasn’t struggled over that thing called “story,” trying to figure out how to put her character through some kind of compelling arc that leads to the inevitable, surprising ending? Like a Mad Man for novelists, Mr. Vonnegut shows us how.
I took a class in his work when I was in college, and because the professor knew him personally he suggested we invite Mr. Vonnegut to come and speak to us. In the first week, we drafted our letter, and the prof took our picture on the steps of the ivy-covered administration building — a former convent, as a matter of fact, which might have tickled the man. We mailed off the letter and waited, in the meantime reading everything from The Sirens of Titan to Slapstick, or Lonesome No More! — his current offering. Each class session was a festival of enthusiasm and laughing, which is a wonderful thing, considering some of the dark material Vonnegut deals in. Near the end of the semester, our prof revealed that he’d finally heard back from the author, who graciously declined our invitation. He made some vague excuses but, as I remember it, confided to us that he was still troubled by a note he’d received from a young boy who, having read some of his books, said, “Please, Mr. Vonnegut, don’t kill yourself!”
I think he might have mentioned this in one of his introductions, so I can’t be sure the story was for us or everyone. But it does speak to his slant on life, I think, and I’m glad he took the kid’s advice.
Here are a few KV quotes from Goodreads:
“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning do to do afterward.”
“The last thing I ever wanted was to be alive when the three most powerful people on the whole planet would be named Bush, Dick and Colon.”
“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies – “God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”