High Coo – Nov 11 – Happy Birthday, Kurt Vonnegut

The New York Times

Regular readers of this blog know that Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. is my favorite author. Today is his 100th birthday and I am compelled to recommend him again.

Born 11/11/1922, he died in 2007 at the age of 84.

As reported by The New York Times, “Vonnegut died in the Manhattan borough of New York City on the night of April 11, 2007, as a result of brain injuries incurred several weeks prior, from a fall at his brownstone home.” (Dinitia Smith, The New York Times)

True to his irreverent nature, “In a 2006 Rolling Stone interview, Vonnegut sardonically stated that he would sue the Brown & Williamson tobacco company, the maker of the Pall Mall-branded cigarettes he had been smoking since he was around 12 or 14 years old, for false advertising: “And do you know why? Because I’m 83 years old. The lying bastards! On the package Brown & Williamson promised to kill me.” (Lev Grossman, TIME)

Considered the Mark Twain of his generation, Vonnegut wrote 14 novels addressing his aversion to war, religion and politics. All are well worth reading, yet lately, I have been rereading the book Pity The Reader written by Vonnegut & Suzanne McConnell (paperback published in 2020 by Seven Stories Press). This book is based on a short article he wrote for International Paper Company titled, How to Write with Style. In his succinct fashion, Vonnegut identified the eight things to remember to have a successful writing style:

  1. Find a subject you care about
  2. Do not ramble
  3. Keep it simple
  4. Have the guts to cut
  5. Sound like yourself
  6. Say what you mean
  7. Pity the readers
  8. For really detailed advice …

Here is my homage haiku: Happy Birthday Kurt Vonnegut

brevity revealed

your soul’s desire to find

decent humankind

Vonnegut with his wife Jane and children (from left to right): Mark, Edith and Nanette, in 1955 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Vonnegut

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