The late, great Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was my favorite author. He is my favorite author and always will be. He could say things in a way that nobody else could. He could also say the same old thing in a way that nobody else ever had, leading some people (like me) to actually hear the Same Old Thing for the first time.
The day Kurt died, I took half the day off work, came home, and read Cat’s Cradle again. As is usually the case when I pick up a Vonnegut book, over the next two week I read six more of his books before going back to anything else.
If you’re just starting, I would recommend you read these three books first, but trying to list the best Kurt Vonnegut books turns into a very long list. They’re all wonderful. However, these three will give you what I consider the best introduction and overview of Vonnegut’s work and views.
If you like these, you’ll like the rest. Some are definitely better than others–Vonnegut himself rated Slapstick and Timequake poorly. This doesn’t mean that his worst efforts aren’t better than just about everyone else’s best.
Seven of my favorite Vonnegut quotes – from his books and speeches
“Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before… He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way.
“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
“We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane.”
“What is flirtatiousness but an argument that life must go on and on and on?”
“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder ‘why, why, why?’
Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.”
“There is no order in the world around us, we must adapt ourselves to the requirements of chaos instead. It is hard to adapt to chaos, but it can be done. I am living proof of that: It can be done.”
“A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.”
All right: which of you have read any Kurt Vonnegut, which books are your favorites, and if you haven’t, when are you going to start? Let’s talk in the comments section.
PS: If you’re looking for a complete Vonnegut Bibliography, there it is!
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