A belated and not at all worthy tribute to Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

What better way to celebrate the life of a deceased author than to make it about myself? None, that’s what. Yesterday marked the fourth anniversary of the death of Kurt Vonnegut. He wrote Slaughterhouse Five. That’s pretty much my favourite book. And I’ve never read anything of his I didn’t like. Hence why when I heard of his death all those years ago I had to go and have a sit down, as it upset me more than the death of anyone or anything else I have ever known. If that makes me a bad person, so be it.

I don’t think he’s the best writer out there, but he is certainly my favourite. While his message can be convoluted – as a stylistic choice – and go left, right, up, down, backwards and forwards on itself, it still has a simplistic quality that shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s hard work to distil a message down to its core components, but Vonnegut always did that. For me, at least.

I don’t know if I copy him in that regard – I don’t know if I’m skilled at getting across a simple message in what is seemingly the most confusing manner possible (even though it’s actually quite simple). I might do in some ways, but it certainly isn’t something I’ve noticed. What I have noticed is my ripping off of his use of repetition.

Vonnegut often repeated little turns of phrase, little slogans, sayings and remarks. He would repeat them as the narrator. He would repeat them via the main character. He would repeat them through whichever fictional religious organisation he had concocted in order to lampoon the very real religious organisations out there. Repetition is said to be bad in writing. Vonnegut was one example of why that is such a bullshit opinion, and I think – if anything – the correct, intentional, sometimes funny use of repetition is the one thing I have taken from my distant, book-reading relationship with Kurt Vonnegut.

Seeing as it’s one of the few things I actually like about my writing, I’d have to say that’s a decent thing to take from the man. And not to end on the least original ending ever, but you really do have to: so it goes.

What better way to celebrate the life of a deceased author than to make it about myself? None, that’s what. Yesterday marked the fourth anniversary of the death of Kurt Vonnegut. He wrote Slaughterhouse Five. That’s pretty much my favourite book. And I’ve never read anything of his I didn’t like. Hence why when I heard of his death all those years ago I had to go and have a sit down, as it upset me more than the death of anyone or anything else I have ever known. If that makes me a bad person, so be it.

I don’t think he’s the best writer out there, but he is certainly my favourite. While his message can be convoluted – as a stylistic choice – and go left, right, up, down, backwards and forwards on itself, it still has a simplistic quality that shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s hard work to distil a message down to its core components, but Vonnegut always did that. For me, at least.

I don’t know if I copy him in that regard – I don’t know if I’m skilled at getting across a simple message in what is seemingly the most confusing manner possible (even though it’s actually quite simple). I might do in some ways, but it certainly isn’t something I’ve noticed. What I have noticed is my ripping off of his use of repetition.

Vonnegut often repeated little turns of phrase, little slogans, sayings and remarks. He would repeat them as the narrator. He would repeat them via the main character. He would repeat them through whichever fictional religious organisation he had concocted in order to lampoon the very real religious organisations out there. Repetition is said to be bad in writing. Vonnegut was one example of why that is such a bullshit opinion, and I think – if anything – the correct, intentional, sometimes funny use of repetition is the one thing I have taken from my distant, book-reading relationship with Kurt Vonnegut.

Seeing as it’s one of the few things I actually like about my writing, I’d have to say that’s a decent thing to take from the man. And not to end on the least original ending ever, but you really do have to: so it goes.

1. Find a subject you care about.
2. Do not ramble, though.
3. Keep it simple.
4. Have the guts to cut.
5. Sound like yourself.
6. Say what you mean to say.
7. Pity the readers.

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3 Comments

Filed under Prattle

3 responses to “A belated and not at all worthy tribute to Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

  1. i thought you got the repeating yourself loads from stewart lee.

    as i said on twitter, i’m going to start re-reading all of his books.

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