Friday, April 13, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut Remembered through Epitaph and Fiction

Nothing gets someone who thinks of himself as a writer writing faster than the death of one of his writing icons. Kurt Vonnegut wrote quite possibly the greatest book of the 20th Century, with no exaggeration that is usual, than Breakfast of Champions. I had no generational connection with this man. He was 84. I'm 6 decades his junior. He is a WWII vet. The only thing I'm a veteran of is college. But the projections of his mind into a novel perfectly met with my mind, and boy they did the dance.

I've read Breakfast of Champions more than any other book. I've seen the horrific film version starring Bruce Willis about once even though I have it in my collection (long story short: I found it in the middle of the street as if it was the by-product of a break-up at Rutgers where everything ended up on a lawn, not uncommon.) It's sad how bad this movie is. Maybe the greatest way to celebrate Vonnegut's life is to persevere once again through the worst of the worst and not enjoy the best of his best. That's just the kind of torture that might have made the man smile. More after some links.

Vonnegut Links
Entertainment Weekly on his death
Scientific American chimes in
Vonnegut Wikipedia

And as my own tribute to Mr. Vonnegut, may I give you the debut of the last short story that I wrote, which I feel is the most fitting tribute I can give him. It so happens to be 100% inspired by his work. It has a bit of sexual content. Viewer discretion is advised.

The Collegiate Crusade
A Short Story By Joseph Soria

The professor read Vonnegut aloud in class while thinking of his attractive female students without their clothing. He wondered if this was an ethical violation but it was a technique he used ever since his Public Speaking class in high school. Yet somewhere along the way, he was able to focus this nudifying energy onto attractive girls and if there were none, he just imagined the entire class was wearing too many layers for him to penetrate.

“… And so it goes. Anyone have any clue what just happened in this section?”

A good forty percent of the Modern Fiction Class in front of him, a prerequisite for freshman, seemed to at least attempt to return his question with a glance in his general vicinity.

It was the only the second day of class. One student, who will be getting a C- on his next paper, fell asleep with a pencil eraser stuck up his nose. The professor found this fascinating but had to maintain his composure. He thought of the suck-up blonde in the front row with the 4 inch long jean skirt, which for no apparent reason had a small slit leading from the bottom . She was a classic temptress. Temptresses could not write papers or take tests but they loved to visit during office hours. It made the weekly dreaded 3-hour-period go by quicker and more enjoyably. After class, the professor wondered if he could fellate himself while imagining this front row temptress was performing the act. Maybe he could do it while driving.

The professor gave the class a minute to try and scrounge up a response. A student raised his hand.

“Yes, you.”

“Professor, I don’t like Vonnegut. My dad said he’s a hack.”

Tell your father to go read the new John Grisham book. Buy it at Walmart where all great literature is sold.

“That’s a good comment but it doesn’t really apply to the core question.”

Yes, give him that teacher jive.

“Vonnegut’s internal monologue style is thinly veiled to add to the entire ironic situation at hand. He confuses and confounds while revealing and informing. You think it might seems like dribble but it’s very concentrated and honed dribble. Which really isn’t dribble at all.”

A few students nodded their heads. Eraser Nose seems to have not moved but somehow the pencil has increased it’s penetration up his left nostril.

“Does anyone have any questions?”

No, don’t answer that. The professor is just required to ask for questions because it’s in his tenure contract.

A moderately attractive red head with perky breasts and a v-neck raises her hand and slightly hops out of her desk, making her excited breasts somewhat jiggly. This allowed the question to be more welcomed.


“Is Dostoevsky like modern literature?”

At least, we can get this out of the way now. There is always a student trying to show signs of intelligence by asking about other famous authors. This is not impressive to teachers. Not in the slightest.

“We won’t be reading him in this class but I would recommend if you’re going to be trying to graduate from this school that you read some Dostoevsky.”

Situation aborted with not much sarcasm to boot. This had been one of the professor’s more professional days in terms of tone with the students.

She inquires further, ”How about Patterson?”

He prayed she didn’t really say that and gave her a chance to redeem herself.


“James Patterson. The guy who wrote those Ashley Judd books.”

Composure time was now over.

“Oh yes, the bestseller hack who can’t even write books himself anymore because he needs to have one out every 3 weeks. Yea, we’ll have a section on him later in the year. Right after we read the Epistolary Fiction of Adam Sandler.”

“Ok cool.”

Another 10 percent of the class had already disappeared from the class. The other thirty percent smiled and nodded gleefully. They didn’t know who they were dealing with.

“Alright, pop quiz time.”

A collective sigh and gasp came over the class. Eraser Nose’s response was delayed about 10 seconds from the rest.

Pop quizzes were created for when a teacher is tired of teaching. There is one of two routes to go with the quiz. Easy questions to test comprehension or an open ended ambiguous essay to give these newbies a lesson of what the next four years is going to be like. The professor decided to give them both.

He wondered if Eraser Nose could write the quiz by tightening his nostril. It would make an interesting case study and lead him in to a prosperous career as a sideshow performer at an Accounting and other Business-type conference. Was there a Guinness World Record for that type of skill? He would look it up later that night.

He made up some shitty questions. He was especially proud of the on-the-spot ridiculousness he attained while forming the essay question as he wrote it on the green-colored blackboard in Jamesville Hall Room 262. What is the internal metaphorical response to Vonnegut’s use of onomatopoeia?

The professor was done with his speeches for the day but still imagined the attractive co-eds in the nude. He began to write an essay regarding the ethical complications of this but turned into a short story of naked co-eds gone wild. He was proud of that story. The Patterson Fan got a C-. The Blonde got an A for effort. And because she wasn’t wearing any underwear, a skill that many females don’t seem to utilize enough. Eraser Nose actually wrote the quiz with his nostril. He definitely got an A. And so it goes.


Sorry for the poor formatting and the lack of fun scribbled pictures. There was no intention to offend. It's good I don't have an IMUS audience. Don't even have an audience. I'm talking to myself in an empty room.

RIP Mr. Vonnegut. Thank you.

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