Sunday, November 27, 2011

A review of a new biography on Kurt Vonnegut Jr. in today's New York Times Review of Books.

Along with Herman Hesse and Erma Bombeck, Vonnegut was someone I read a lot of in my teenage years, everything up to Breakfast of Champions (1973). After that my reading habits shifted to poetry and what I was assigned by my professors.

While reading the Times review I was reminded of Vonnegut's crisp plain-spoken prose, something his critics took issue with, as if a literary writer must always make more of opening a door and walking through it.

I keep thinking I should go back and reread some of those Vonnegut books that meant so much to me as a teen. I have always liked the "Preface" to Breakfast of Champions and his dedication of the book to Phoebe Hurty, who wrote a "sad and funny advice-to-the-lovelorn column for the Indianapolis Times."

Erma Bombeck began her column-writing career with the Dayton Journal Herald.

Herman Hesse, as far as I know, did not write a newspaper column.

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