How I lost Vonnegut

As a child, I was fascinated by my father’s generation.

The film noir world of the 40s and World War II.

Everything about it was cool.

Of course, my dad read Vonnegut who reflected the inner cynicism of that generation. The generation who saw their parent’s dreams dashed by the depression, the generation who witnessed World War and unprecedented change at home that struck to the very core of the American ethos.

My dad had copies of the very first National Lampoon’s lying around, S.J. Perelman and of course Vonnegut, ‘Cat’s Cradle’, ‘Slaughterhouse Five’, yet my favorite of all was his collection of stories, ‘Welcome to the Monkey House’, (compare Bradbury’s ‘Illustrated Man’).

Slaughterhouse Five still stands up, especially if like the Botendaddy you have been in a War, and you understand that when you meet even evil face to face, sometimes it is cast in shades of gray not quite so visible from one’s living room.

I loved Monkey House as a kid, revered it my entire life, saw it borrowed from and copied repeatedly by Hollywood, never seen it rivaled. Then I read it again. Like the small child who is fascinated by a childhood toy or game, I was now not so enamored with what I read. I now saw it as mostly sappy, one-sided political diatribe, almost an insult to my intelligence. A few of the stories still stand up, but I got a sense of the writer trying to blatantly make some conclusions for the reader. As an adult the subtlety of many of the works was lost.

I guess you can’t go home again.




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