Happy Veteran’s Day!

Today is a day we celebrate Veterans, thus I’d dedicating this post to my literary hero, Kurt Vonnegut.

I was a sophomore in high school when I first picked up Slaughterhouse Five. I’d never read anythinImageg from Vonnegut, but I was a sixteen year old pretentious English nerd and after just finishing Steppenwolf, I was looking for other books that literary minded people were suppose to read.

What I found was so much more.  The sheer chaotic brilliance of his work is something words can’t described. It has to be experience. It has to be read. His work took me, in the first few pages, to worlds I’d never experience before. I was hooked. While my peers read Twilight or Harry Potter, I cried with him through Mother Night and tip-toed to the edge in Galapagos.

Even more amazing, though than his works, may be the life he lived.  The beauty of his writing lies in the scars he experience first hand:

Kurt Vonnegut, a US soldier,  was capture during the Battle of the Bulge, one of the bloodiest battles in America history and quickly lead off to Dresden.

Dresden, during WWII was literally, hell on earth. For two days, The U.S. and Britain firebombed the place. Fire fell from the sky, killing tens of thousands of civilians and most of the POW’s.  Kurt Vonnegut survived by luck. His captors put him and others in a detention facility, Schlachthof Funf, or Slaughterhouse Five. The underground meat locker let him survive the war.

The horrors though he witnessed are etched into every word of his books. He lets us relive the past/present/future and personally, inspired me to be a better person and author.

Happy Veteran’s day. One day I hope, we won’t need this holiday ( they say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one 😉 ).

17 comments on “Happy Veteran’s Day!

  1. I adore Vonnegut. He’s like a sci fi Hemingway. And I wish I could write like him. But I always find myself thinking the same things as him in the end.

    One of Vonnegut’s main themes in Slaughterhouse Five keeps reappearing in my work – luck. When reading through that book at a young age (which I didn’t fully grasp until I was older) I had my first introduction to what living nihilism looked like. He was a unitarian, but really a humanist, and in the end just wanted people to get along even if that meant them devolving. I recently reread Sirens of Titan and found the same thing. Living a life where he wouldn’t hurt anyone. The oppressive equalization of earth wasn’t the center focus, and was even something to escape from. Instead, it was living alone on Titan, with Chronos off with the birds, and he and his wife finding company with one another. To me, there’s no grand message, no right way to live (he never implies that living off the land is a good thing), just living and finding a place to live out one’s life unable to harm and isolation is better than anything else.

    Every time I read him I find that message the most powerful. War is fought over ideology, over principles, and the belief that one is right. Vonnegut eschews all of that. He doesn’t even follow the principle that love will save everything. The end of Galapagos isn’t love one another, but beaching oneself on a rock and having sex once in a while. To me, he is the embodiment of a humanistic nihilism and I think we’d all be better off following his lead. He’s a wonderful man to look up to on Veteran’s Day.

  2. First time I read Kurt Vonnegut’s wacky and wonderful “Cat’s Cradle” I’d never read anything remotely like it. Dark humor, transparent prose —all serving Vonnegut’s bleak and funny vision of science and warfare gone wild.
    It seems to me some sort of poetic justice to remember him precisely on Veteran’s Day: He has been one of the fiercest critics of contemporary society, referring to war and dehumanization. Lovely!

  3. To dream is to give one self a purpose to strive for. No matter how far ahead in the future it lies. Every step we take gets us closer to our fulfilment.
    But for now best wishes on this Veteran’s day.

  4. I love how humane Slaughterhouse Five is, how caring and warm-hearted it is. One of my favorite scenes in the book is of the narrator describing seeing a war documentary backward, so that the bombs go back up safely into the planes, safely back to the hangars, safely disassembled…It’s a beautiful book. Vonnegut is one of my favorite writers.

  5. Thank you for visiting my blog and putting a like on it:). I’m glad to have discovered your blog.
    I liked reading about Kurt Vonnegut and how he inspired you to be a better person and author. I’d love to read more about this in your writing. I also like that you blog about the writing life.

  6. I went to Dresden when stationed in Germany because of Kurt’s writing. Some romanticize military service (not Mr. Vonnegut), but over the 33 years I served, it was more about sacrifice than anything else.

  7. First, thank you for the “Like” to my Blog. Second, it was interesting to see someone of your generation mention Vonnegut and Hesse in the same breath. I am a veteran of years past and it was while in the service that someone turned me on to Vonnegut and Hesse as well as Heinlein’s Stranger In a Strange Land and Aldous Huxley. Still have my collection of Hesse’s books after all these years and nice to hear they are still relevant.

  8. Love Vonnegut, too, and I live by his words. One thing worth mentioning is that it’s going to take a hell of a long time before we can go without Veteran’s Day. Sadly, we’ve got hundreds of years left to celebrate the sacrifices of our veterans, past and present. There are kids all but 18 years old serving right now- and thousands more lined up to join the ranks when they turn 18. All in all, I know what you meant by hoping one day we won’t have to have this day. One day, maybe we won’t need armies and wars, and all of that awful bullshit. And yea, you’re a dreamer for hoping that. And I am, too. But, until then, maybe we can have world peace in our dreams. And hope. And appreciation for what we’ve got now. There’s always that. Until then, we celebrate the sacrifices of those who have served. Nonetheless, still a great post.

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