Monday, September 12, 2005

Wise words from Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut isn’t a deep thinker — no more than, say, Sean Penn or Hillary Clinton. He believes in utopian “good government,” national health care, and the potential greatness of public education. But he’s a great frackin’ writer and the author of one of the best anti-war novels ever written. And I spent 73 pleasant minutes yesterday morning reading his latest teeny collection of essays over a cup of coffee. The book’s called A Man without a Country, and if you enjoy Vonnegut at all, you’ll enjoy this, slight as it is and depressing as it often is. KV’s 82 years old now, and this may very well be his last book.

Anyway, near the end of the volume, pessimistic, curmudgeonly Vonnegut offers a bit of advice for dealing with these horrible times we live in. He writes briefly about his Uncle Alex, whose “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 do the same 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.’ ”

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At 11:49 AM, Blogger Kevin Carson said...

I just finished rereading Player Piano. It's one of his early novels, written before he adopted many of his stylistic peculiarities. An excellent story.


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