Thursday, April 12, 2007

Remembering Kurt Vonnegut ...

... Bruce Boyle sends this, which he has graciously allowed me to post:

I read that he died. Probably the best-natured cynic in American literature since Twain.

A long time ago, after being shot in Vietnam, when I was lying immobile in a hospital bed at Walter Reed Army Hospital, my father saw me reading something by Vonnegut. My father rarely talked about his WWII experiences but he told me that he was Vonnegut's squad leader and they were captured together at the Battle of the Bulge.

They had not had contact since being liberated but my father sent him a new copy of "Slaughterhouse Five" for autograph. I have it still. It says "To Bruce Boyle who was the wise commander of me and Bernard V. O'Hare in World War II. Peace."

We exchanged a couple letters after that and I remember getting one after I'd made some remark about war never being justified. He didn't defend World War II or Vietnam but said Biafra was worth supporting in its then fight with Nigeria.

Years later I was working as a reporter at The Bulletin and on its last day he called the city desk and asked me if there was anything he could do for me. There wasn't but I remain grateful for the thought.


  1. My reaction to this morning's news was about the same as yours. I never met Vonnegut but I'll miss him. He was influential in my writing life, as well as my journalistic sensibilities.

    I blogged about his death -- and what it meant to me as a fan, a journalist and an author myself -- at Under The News

  2. Kurt Vonnegut has died? I did not know. What a tragedy. Although I am afraid I probably think what many people do, which is that he never wrote anything I read that matched Slaughterhose 5. Certainly I will not forget that book and the influence it had on me.