We wanted to post a belated tribute to Kurt Vonnegut, Matt's favorite author and one I'm growing to love. He was a Midwesterner (then a northeastern transplant), a humanist, a satirist, a social critic, a car salesman, a creative writing teacher, a father and grandfather, and a truly great American.
A few quotes from his last published book, "A Man without a Country":
"I am one of America's Great Lakes people, her freshwater people, not an oceanic but a continental people. Whenever I swim in an ocean, I feel as though I am swimming in chicken soup."
"I turned eighty-two on November 11, 2004. What's it like to be this old? I can't parallel park worth a damn anymore, so please don't watch while I try to do it. And gravity has become a lot less friendly and manageable than it used to be. When you get to my age, if you get to my age, and if you have reproduced, you will find yourself asking your own children, who are themselves middle-aged, 'What's life all about?' I have seven kids, three of them orphaned nephews. I put my big question about life to my son, the pediatrician. Dr. Vonnegut said this to his doddering old dad: 'Father, we are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is."
"All I really wanted to do was give people the relief of laughing. Humor can be a relief, like an aspirin tablet. If a hundred years from now people are still laughing, I'd certainly be pleased."
"But I had a good uncle, my late Uncle Alex. He was my father's kid brother, a childless graduate of Harvard who was an honest life-insurance salesman in Indianapolis. He was well-read and wise. And his principal complaint about other human beings was that they so seldom noticed it when they were happy. So when we were drinking lemonade under an apple tree in the summer, say, and talking lazily about this and that, almost buzzing like honeybees, Uncle Alex would suddenly interrupt the agreeable blather to exclaim, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.' So I that now, and so do my kids and grandkids. And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'"
"No matter how corrupt, greedy, and heartless our government, our corporations, our media, and our religious and charitable institutions may become, the music will still be wonderful. If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:
THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD WAS MUSIC"
For his political commentary and more insight on living life, read his books. Here's one of his final interviews, on the Daily Show in 2005.