Kurt Vonnegut Jr. survived being a WWII POW (including being ensconced in the middle of the firebombing of Dresden) and used the experience to write one of the great time-travel stories of all time (next to Twain’s Connecticut Yankee). He was a man for whom black comedy was its own language and a man who bathed himself, and his works, in satire so deep and wide as to drown the rest of the world. A man so revered by the ‘geeks’ of the world he had an asteroid named after him. The man who gave us Kilgore Trout, Billy Pilgrim, Francine Pefko and Rabo Karabekian, not to mention the amazingly compact social commentary of short stories like “Harrison Bergeron”. This is a man who filled one of my favorite books with doodles, including this… This is one of the books that changed me irreversibly in my young adulthood and left its mark on me forever. Like CANDIDE, Burroughs’ NAKED LUNCH, Kerouac’s ON THE ROAD, any and all Uncle Walt (Whitman, not Disney you @#%^&!@), an armload of Tom Robbins, Dick or Salinger, Huxley or Orwell, Douglas Adams or Dr. Gonzo or any number of other books I read in my tweens and teens that showed me that writing wasn’t always about ‘what happens next’, but sometimes just how the story is told. A whole world was opened up to me by BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS, especially in the single tiny passage:
“their English teachers would wince and cover their ears and give them flunking grades and so on whenever they failed to speak like English aristocrats before the First World War. Also: they were told that they were unworthy to speak or write their language if they couldn’t love or understand incomprehensible novels and poems and plays about people long ago and far away, such as Ivanhoe”
That passage stuck with me, even through University Lit classes and scores of rigid ‘poetry’ and prose that left me wondering if I could ever reconcile the strict rules and guidelines of ‘higher prose’ with the more natural voice I found constantly seeping into my work. Needless to say, Vonnegut and his cohorts won out over the The Battle of Brunanburh and Ivanhoe and MADAME BOVARY. So when trying to think of a way to commemorate actually finishing a novel, along with my re-dedication to writing fiction, my forthcoming anthology publications, etc. etc. etc. My mind naturally turned to my first real teachers. My first thoughts were of Twain and Joyce and Shakespeare – all of which, while certainly beloved, didn’t seem to lend themselves to what I was considering. I needed something more visual . Enter Vonnegut’s asterisk. Though the actual drawing from the book seemed too crude and the usual variations (like the Red Hot Chili Peppers appropriated ‘logo’) seemed to far off to really remind me of K.V. So I did a little research and came across this:
An art-print version created by Vonnegut himself, that is more in line with the asterisk he was known to sign his name with for sometimes unsuspecting fans and lawyers. I decided to pair it with the recurring quote ‘so it goes’ from Slaughterhouse 5, both as an encapsulation of my own philosophy of Life and a reminder of what kind of writer I can only hope to one day become. And thus… So if you see me comin’ and I’m waving to beat the band, I’m probably just happy to see you… If I give you the fist-up, wrist-out, full-on view of Vonnegut’s Asterisk, it probably means you’re an asshole. The novel is out now, from Evolved Publishing, and I like to think there’s a little Uncle Kurt in there, as well as all of those other influences. It has been roundly reviewed as highly entertaining and extremely satisfying. The Snickers of cross-genre fiction. It has a lot of action, a little mystery, some romance, a little heart, a dash of brotherly love, and a whole lotta funny. I hope you’ll check it out, and I sincerely hope you enjoy it. Drop me a line here. Let me know. Share it with your friends, mention it to the world, if you happen to pass it on the street sometime. Either way, have a glorious day, be excellent, and be good to each other. That’s what Ol’ Uncle Kurt would have wanted.
2 thoughts on “Vonnegut’s Asterisk”
Well done, my friend. I am reading Sam Fuller’s autobiography “The Third Face” and his description of the concentration camps he helped liberate reminded me of ‘Slaughterhouse 5″ so much that I must bump it up in the queue and re-read it.
Well, after “Hot Sinatra,” of course.
It’s already in your mailbox, sir. Feedback at your earliest convenience would be appreciated to the ends of the earth.
In the meantime, here’s to the Creator of our Universe and all us robot creations. Ordinary Fucking People.