Chattering Mind

By Valerie Reiss, filling in for Amy.

The wonderful author Kurt Vonnegut died yesterday at age 84.

Though I’ve buried many of the details of his amazing books deep into my adolescent psyche where they first bloomed (or rather, exploded), I know his snarky, brilliant, dark-yet-bright, absurd-yet-earnest, searing satires seriously shaped me–and zillions of others.

If you haven’t, I urge you to pick up “Cat’s Cradle” or “Breakfast of Champions” or “Slaughterhouse Five,” because they’re all wincing and soaring revelations, if a tad gritty–and often grapple with themes of existence, God, and religion galore. You should do this especially if you mainly know of him through “his” commencement speech–one of the Internet’s first viral links, and frauds about 10 years ago.

At age 14, I scrawled this beloved quote from “Cat’s Cradle” on my bathroom’s “graffiti” wall (I had a cool mom):

“Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.”

And this, of course, was written nearby: “So it goes.”

<a href="
” target=”_new”>Here are many other great Vonnegut quotes.

The Times’ obit today talks about his work, including the metaphysical elements, here. It says that this quote from his novel “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater,” “summed up his philosophy”:

“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ ”

That’s a philosophy that works for me. So it goes.

Do you have any favorite Vonnegut memories or quotes or books? Please share.

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