As you’ve probably gathered, writers make up a large part of ‘things I am grateful for’. Most of them thus far have been poets. Here’s one of my favourite prose writers – Kurt Vonnegut.
He’s written masses of short stories and a good few novels too. His most famous of which, (and one of my faves), is Slaughterhouse 5.
It’s partly based on his own experiences as an American POW in Dresden, (the Slaughterhouse was where the prisoners were held captive), when he witnessed the aftermath of Allied bombing which not only leveled the city killing 25,000 people, but created a huge firestorm which sucked the air out of the atmosphere so that many victims didn’t burn to death but were suffocated.
The story flicks back and forth in time from the 40s to the 70s to the future, where Billy Pilgrim is abducted by aliens, taken to a planet billions of miles away and put in a zoo along with a porn star so they can observe how humans behave.
It’s a profoundly funny and satirical look on war, life and death. In one very amusing scene in the book, the aliens watch an old Earth war documentary and come to the conclusion that humans must be very kind. Unfortunately, they have watched the film in reverse, so rather than watching a bombing raid, they see planes sucking fire up out of the ground, flying home and dismantling bombs.
Here’s a wonderfully amusing short film where Mr. Vonnegut explains the ‘Shapes of Stories’. It’s both very enlightening and very funny, if you’ve got 5 minutes to spare.
In later life, he also turned his hand to art and sculpture. (Click on his image to see his work.)