When I got into high school, I was exposed to things that opened my mind. Music, art, literature, endeavors that while not ignored in our house, were not nurtured. As a child I took music lessons, and my mother dragged us to see "The Sound of Music" and "Fiddler on the Roof", but sports reigned supreme in my life. I voraciously read serials such as The Hardy Boys, books by athletes such as Jerry Kramer, author of "Instant Replay" and Gale Sayers, who write "I am Third", and of course, hunting and fishing magazines.
In my sophomore year of high school I started to appreciate and seek out different writing styles. I’d read the assigned classics, “Animal Farm”, “1984”, “Fahrenheit 451” and so forth. They were great, and I’m glad I read them, but they weren’t books I’d pick up if I didn’t have to. Midway through my junior year I was struggling to find a book for a book report assignment, and a friend handed me a copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s "Slapstick". Hi ho. The book opened my mind to a style of writing, and a view of the world I never knew existed. It was one of the passages into adulthood where I began to learn about, and appreciate, the mind and its infinite creativity, possibility, and potential. I became a huge Kurt Vonnegut fan, and to me his work seems as relevant today as it was then.
It was later that I learned of Vonnegut’s depression, and the mental pain he lived with. Even upon learning this, it didn’t surprise me, after all, the man was an artist, and artists were supposed to be tortured, weren’t they? At that time I was yet untainted by my first major depression, and blissfully ignorant of the depressed mind. After “Slaughterhouse Five” came out in 1969, Kurt Vonnegut entered a long period of depression and swore he would never write another novel. He caved, and 4 years later published “Breakfast Of Champions” in 1973. But the depression persisted, and he attempted suicide in 1984, forty years after his mother’s suicide. He survived, and lived a long life writing, teaching, speaking, laughing, and loving.
So today, much like the passing of John Lennon or George Harrison, I mourn the passing of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Another individual who helped me understand and appreciate some of the chapters in my book of life.
Read more SharePosts about Kurt Vonnegut from our community: Community Pays Tribute to Kurt Vonnegut