Friday, April 13, 2007


This is a slight rehash of a topic covered in the comments to the Michael Dibdin article, but I think it warrants a mention in a "proper" posting. Another literary death this week: Kurt Vonnegut. Various obituary articles here: the BBC, and slightly more comprehensive ones in the Times and the Washington Post.

Needless to say Kurt Vonnegut was a far bigger deal in the literary world, both critically and comercially, than Michael Dibdin ever was, but I never quite got to grips with him in quite the same way. I read the book upon which the bulk of his reputation rests, Slaughterhouse-Five, and I've also read Breakfast Of Champions and Galapagos. I think you either instantly engage with and love the constant structural experiments and the self-referentiality or you find the whole thing leaves you a bit cold and yearning from some proper literary meat to chew on. I probably fall into the latter camp, which isn't to say I didn't find the books enjoyable, just that I wasn't fired with an irresistible urge to seek out and read any more of them.

After having a root around my bookshelves last night I discover I've also got one of his earlier ones, The Sirens Of Titan, though I've never read it. I'll get to it eventually.

Slightly bizarrely, I was inspired to read Slaughterhouse-Five after hearing it mentioned in the film Footloose, the classic piece of 1980's teen tosh. When you're a teenager anything that might have been banned somewhere sounds like the sort of thing you want to be reading.

Reverend, we have a little problem.
I heard the English teacher is planning to teach that book.
Slaughterhouse Five. Isn't that an awful name?

On a completely unrelated topic, I found myself watching It's Not Easy Being Green last night, the continuing eco-adventures of the Strawbridge family, featuring Dick Strawbridge, a man with a moustache you could lose a badger in. Well, I suppose it's not completely unrelated, as there is the moustache connection (see the Vonnegut picture above). Anyway, I couldn't help noticing that the incidental music featured the instrumental intros from two songs from Sufjan Stevens' brilliant Come On Feel The Illinoise album: John Wayne Gacy, Jr. and Decatur. Well done BBC. I'm almost tempted to write to Points Of View, except I don't think it's on any more.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for the Kurt entry, that's great. I just felt I had to comment, as I is a polite lady innit.

The moustaches are good too, but I think that José Bové's moustache beats the lot.