Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Dose of Vonnegut
Out on the Hammock

I spent part of the afternoon yesterday on my beloved back yard hammock, enjoying an idiosyncratic book by an idiosyncratic 82-year-old writer. Kurt Vonnegut's A Man Without a Country is a quick afternoon read, packed with surprises. Here are some brief passages that hit me:

I am from a family of artists. Here I am, making a living in the arts. It has not been a rebellion It's as though I had taken over the family Esso station.

* * *

I think that novels that leave out technology misrepresent life as badly as Victorians misrepresented life by leaving out sex.
* * *

Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are tranvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.
* * *
Where are Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln now when we need them? They were country boys from Middle America, and both of them made the American people laugh at themselves and appreciate really important, really moral jokes. Imagine what they would have to say today.
* * *
In case you haven't noticed, as a result of a shamelessly rigged election in Florida, in which thousands of African Americans were arbitrarily disenfranchised, we now present ourselves to the rest of the world as proud, grinning, jut-jawed pitiless war-lovers with appalingly powerful weaponry--who stand unopposed. In case you haven't noticed, we are now as feared and hated all over the world as the Nazis once were. And with good reason...So I am a man without a country, except for the librarians and a Chicago paper called In These Times.
* * *
There is a tragic flaw to our precious Constitution, and I don't know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president. This was true even in high school. Only clearly disturbed people ran for class president.
* * *
While on the subject of burning books, I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength, their powerful political connections or great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and destroyed records rather than have to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles. So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House, the Supreme Court, the Senate, the House of Representatives, or the media. The America I loved still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.


At 11:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I LOVED these quotes...they completely made my day...:)

At 12:53 PM, Blogger Jeff Hess said...

Shalom John,

I remember what seems a lifetime ago when Vonnegut published Time Quake back in '97 as his last book. I knew then that he wouldn't stop until they pried the No. 2 Ticonderoga out of his cold, dead fingers.

This was the quote that I carried away from A Man Without A Country.



At 3:33 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Thanks for visiting, Anne and Jeff.


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