rainy day

kurt vonnegut was probably the first “grown-up” author I read. I lived in books as a child – narnia, oz, the strange & bizarre worlds of roald dahl, shel silverstein & edward gorey – and somewhere around 6th or 7th grade I discovered roald dahl’s short stories, which were a bit more R rated than I’d realized they’d be. My mother was trying to convince me at this point that it was time to read Tolstoy and the Brontes, but somehow it was satirical insanity I craved and not the subtle british wit I was promised in Jane Austen. I turned from Dahl to Kurt Vonnegut’s short stories, and then picked up Cat’s Cradle. At that point in my life, at least, this book was a piece of brilliance: an assurance of the beauty of nonsense and the meaningfulness of impotence – an assurance that I wasn’t alone.

I read everything he wrote after that, or everything I could get my hands on. Of course nothing was ever quite the same as that first taste, which over the years I have found to be true of almost every novelist. So many authors write one book, over and over, in many new ways, but at the core of it you feel you know the book so well already, and it becomes familiar and lovely to reread it by reading their other books, but still: that rush of novelty is hard to find again.

I feel an odd thread of nostalgia mixed in when I look to vonnegut now, and I don’t know if that’s just my own connection back to my early adolescence because it’s when I read him, or because the perfectly funny-sad world of vonnegut just pulls that up wherever you are, because adolescence is when you’re actually closest to understanding it directly, before you’re sucked into daily routines and pretending life makes sense.

Life is a flux of moods (of course that’s rw, not kurt) but I don’t think I’ll ever fully excise my inner angsty teenager. Sometimes I think she is naive and melodramatic, and sometimes I think she is just paying more attention. But in the end I still don’t know there’s anything one can do but laugh.

so be it.

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