Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut ...

He died tonight.

I was just thinking about him the other day, interestingly.

I wrote a blog post about him, in part, a year ago January.

When I was in college, I interviewed him at his home in Sagaponak, N.Y., for an article I was writing for one of my courses. As the New York Times' piece says, he was indeed a chain smoker.

Pall Malls.

I'd read Cat's Cradle before our interview. The book begins, "Call me Jonah." Later in the book, there's a reference to a headstone in a cemetery.

"So, what's the name on the headstone?" I asked.

He looked at me as if I was dense.

"Mine," he said.

"But, the book begins 'Call me Jonah.' Why would the reader think the narrator is you?" and as I was speaking the words, a voice in my head was saying, "Shut up, Beth. SHUT UP. You're arguing with Kurt Vonnegut about ONE OF HIS OWN BOOKS."

He was gracious during my visit. When I was nervous about the idea of interviewing him, Grace, my officemate at the Chicago Sun-Times, said, "Beth, he puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like everybody else."

Meeting Vonnegut was my earliest experience with someone truly famous, and Grace's words have stayed with me to this day. Famous people are people.

Still, some people are more iconic than others.

And tonight, the world has one fewer icon.

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Anonymous Ethan said...

Wow, that sucks.

11:52 PM  

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