Kurt Vonnegut: Dead at 84
Kurt Vonnegut, who wrote books that some schools let your read and some didn’t, died Wednesday, the AP reports. He was 84.
He had suffered brain injuries after a recent fall at his Manhattan home, said his wife, photographer Jill Krementz.
With more than a dozen books to his credit, Vonnegut is considered a key influence among 20th-century American writers. Novels such as Slaughterhouse-Five, Cat’s Cradle and Hocus Pocus mixed social commentary, sci-fi and autobiography.
In a statement, Norman Mailer hailed Vonnegut as “a marvelous writer with a style that remained undeniably and imperturbably his own. ... I would salute him our own Mark Twain.”
“He was sort of like nobody else,” said another fellow author, Gore Vidal. “Kurt was never dull.”
Vonnegut was born on Nov. 11, 1922, in Indianapolis, and studied chemistry at Cornell University before joining the Army. His mother killed herself just before he left for Germany during World War II, where he was quickly taken prisoner during the Battle of the Bulge. He was being held in Dresden when Allied bombs firebombed the German city. He survived by huddling with other POW’s inside an underground meat locker labeled slaughterhouse-five.
Vonnegut adopted his sister’s three young children after she died. He also had three children of his own with his first wife, Jane Marie Cox, and later adopted a daughter, Lily, with his second wife, Krementz.
He once said that of all the ways to die, he’d prefer to go out in an airplane crash on the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro. He often joked about the difficulties of old age.
“When Hemingway killed himself he put a period at the end of his life; old age is more like a semicolon,” Vonnegut told the AP. “My father, like Hemingway, was a gun nut and was very unhappy late in life. But he was proud of not committing suicide. And I’ll do the same, so as not to set a bad example for my children.” [Photo: Vonnegut in 2006. AP]