Kurt Vonnegut has died. He was 84.
The strength of my reaction has stunned me. I knew something was up when I got to the PC this morning and found the screen littered with blinking IMs. . . ‘Did you hear?’ ‘Sorry about Vonnegut.’
I had not heard. I had blissfully turned in early with Danielle’s story in my hands. I scribbled the Post-it Note song as tears spilled from my eyes. I knew the news was no good.
He was old, and a few years ago he nearly burned down his own home with a cigarette. I had seen him on the Jon Stewart show, you could tell ol’ Kurt was declining.
I am sitting here at my desk, naked and crying. E-mails keep popping in from people I know telling me of the news and expressing their condolences. So clearly I have, in the past, expressed to many people the depth of my admiration and respect for Vonnegut.
And as I sit here with my fingers on the keyboard, I cannot think of a single thing to write. My mind is blank and I am filled with sadness that I can’t even express. Maybe later.
Later, 10:48 a.m.
I am cursing the Scandinavianness of most midwestern names. I decided today would be a good time to see if I couldn’t Google up the Wilsons, the people responsible for introducing Vonnegut into my life. I wanted to thank them and express my condolences. But I had no luck.
I am still in the midst of reading How to be Alone by Jonathan Franzen. One of the things he seems to push in virtually every essay in the book is that our current ‘electronic age’ is isolating people. But today, I can say he’s dead wrong.
All over the Web people are pouring out their thoughts on Vonnegut’s writing. It’s comforting, to feel not so alone in your sadness over the death of someone who meant a lot to you.
Like I mention in the comments below, I am lucky that I have a co-worker who cherished Vonnegut as much as I did. We spent the morning exchanging weird Vonnegut memories. She told me how she thought about staying home today. I did too.
But not everyone is going to be as lucky to have someone in their lives to turn to about Vonnegut’s death. A majority of people aren’t even going to know who he was. Plus, reading is such an isolating and intensely personal thing that it’s hard to share your feelings about books you’ve read with the people in your life who have not read them. But here on the internet, you can easily find a hundreds if not hundreds of thousands of people who have read and love Vonnegut just as much as you. It’s comforting to have people to mourn with.
Between Vonnegut’s death and the testemonials I am kind of a big, weepy mess today.