Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt is up in heaven now

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, great American novelist, passed away yesterday. Bookninja links to a slew of obituaries. My friend GS sent me a link to this article, one of Vonnegut's last rants against the current Bush administration. Read the whole thing, but I'll point out the section wherein he praises my vocation:

While on the subject of burning books, I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and destroyed records rather than have to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.

So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House, the Supreme Court, the Senate, the House of Representatives, or the media. The America I loved still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.

And still on the subject of books: our daily news sources, newspapers and TV, are now so craven, so unvigilant on behalf of the American people, so uninformative, that only in books do we learn what's really going on.

I will cite an example: House of Bush, House of Saud by Craig Unger, published in early 2004, that humiliating, shameful, blood-soaked year...

...So I am a man without a country, except for the librarians and a Chicago paper called In These Times.

As for the title of this post, it is at Kurt's request:

I am, incidentally, Honorary President of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in that totally functionless capacity. We had a memorial service for Isaac a few years back, and I spoke and said at one point, "Isaac is up in heaven now." It was the funniest thing I could have said to an audience of humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored. And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, "Kurt is up in heaven now." That's my favorite joke.

Keep 'em laughing, Kurt.

UPDATE (May 24, 2007): Almost forget I had a previous connection to Vonnegut.