Thursday, April 12, 2007

"Passing Away"

I am sitting here at Chapters, in the Starbucks section of the bookstore…. you know, I would love to come up with a better term for this location, since I, of necessity, use it so often.
It’s just that if I say “Starbucks” and then talk about books on shelves, it may sound confusing.
I always need you to know that I am not only at Starbucks [in general] but at the one in the CHAPTERS BOOKSTORE.
StarChaps© ?
Chapped Bucks© ?
Starbooks© ?
At any rate, here I am, and a few m
inutes ago I nearly had a heart attack.
I looked over, and there on display was a “new” book by Alice Munro, and see… I was under the impression that she had gone into some kind of self-induced literary-retirement after The View From Castle Rock.
So I raced over.
Hmmmm… a letdown.
It is a "new" compilation of nine previously released short stories.
The first one, [Away From Her] was originally titled The Bear Came Over The Mountain, and is here re-titled to match the name of the soon-to-be-released motion picture, based on the story. [above photo].
Which proves true what so many have said of Munro’s stories… each could easily be stretched to novel-length. Or, in this case, movie-length!
The film stars Julie Christie, Gordon Pinsent, and Olympia Dukakis.

So. I did NOT have a heart attack. I am still very much alive.
But…. sad news.
Kurt Vonnegut has passed away.
By now, 99% of Bookpuddle readers will know this. I mention it only to say that I feel a special sadness whenever the world loses a great writer.
In the case of Vonnegut, I must ashamedly say that I have never read any of his novels. So my words should be few.
It would be inappropriate for me to pretend I knew him. It would be like calling upon a dearly departed loved-one's dentist or mailman to speak their eulogy.
Know what I mean?
There you are, not alive any more, and some guy is at the pulpit telling everyone… “Yeah. He sure had great molars!” or… “Wow! He sure subscribed to some interesting magazines!”
I just know that Vonnegut is great because my beloved Reading Partner© says so, and there is nothing that she does not know about literary greatness and/or infamy.
If she says he is good, then good he is. And she does.

She met Vonnegut. And she loves his work[s].

After looking at the Munro book, I walked down the “V” aisle of Fiction, and I observed the impressive row of Vonnegut books…. they were leaning slightly, but nonetheless standing there as alive as they were two days ago.
As alive as last year.
But the author has gone hence.
I don’t want any of them to leave. The authors, I mean.
I don’t want to hear about Atwood, or Munro, or Saramago, or Kundera “passing away.”
And judging from my disappointment at the display table a few minutes ago, I even hate it when they RETIRE!

-- Kurt Vonnegut --
(Nov.11, 1922 - Apr.11, 2007)



Ashlee said...

Hi, I have a quick question for you. ^_^ How did you get your little "Currently Reading" section in your side bar? I've been trying to figure out how to do something similar to that on my blog (which is also with blogger) and couldn't get anything to work the way I wanted it to.

Isabella said...

It seems quite a lot of people have met Vonnegut — a real people's writer.

I read Player Piano for high school, so I can recommend it. It inspired me to read a bunch more of his work, but sadly I don't recall much of it but in a general way.

Stefanie said...

I read Slaughterhouse Five a couple of years ago. Fantastic. And he was a good essayist too. I think great writers should get some kind of death dispensation or something so they can stick around writing new books for all eternity. Of course, that could end up being a kind of hell for the writer I suppose. But who cares as long as they keep writing good books! :)

Anonymous said...

Long live Kilgore Trout, Billy Pilgrim, Montana Wildhack and the rest of the Vonnegut creations.

My personal favorites ...Cat's Cradle or God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. Palm Sunday has a fine collection of his essays, biographical and otherwise.

Has anyone out there ever read a little Dell paperback called Venus on the Half Shell [supposedly] written by none other than the ubiquitous Mr. Trout?