Wednesday, July 18, 2012

God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian...random thoughts...


God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian by Kurt Vonnegut.

I didn't mean to read this book. Okay, enter previous sentence in my "really stupid things I have said" collection. What I meant was more like, I didn't really intend to read this book at this particular time. I was unpacking boxes of Rich's fiction to put away in our reading room (YES--finally I am getting some of our books unpacked!) and something made me open this one up and start reading the first page. Ha! Well, so much for getting this book put on the shelves!

This book is one of the weirdest little things I've ever read. And as I nearly always do, I mean weird in a very good way. But explaining it...whew, talk about challenging. Okay, Kurt Vonnegut did a series of 90-minutes snippets for his local NPR station. They are gathered here. Easy enough so far, huh? But here things get a little...well, odd. In each of these snippets, Vonnegut "interviews" a dead person. Usually, but not always, a famous dead person. He does this by having Dr. Jack Kevorkian send him on near-death experiences and then bring him back before it's too late. These "trips" take place at "the state-of-the-art lethal injection execution facility at Huntsville, Texas."

Now Vonnegut is a humanist. As he says, "I am a humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without any expectation of rewards or punishments after I'm dead." However, in his first near-death experience, he discovers that that blue tunnel leading to Heaven really does exist and a somewhat cranky St. Peter mans the Pearly Gates. Hell, however, does not exist, so everyone makes their way to Heaven when they die. Thus Vonnegut is able to interview a few people we would tend to think wouldn't make it to Heaven under the typical Heaven/Hell dichotomy.

A random sampling of his interviews: Birnum Birnum, Clarence Darrow, Adolf Hitler, Mary Shelley.

This was an incredibly quick little read. And an amusing one. And yet, Mr. Vonnegut is a man who can pack quite a wallop with few words. And he does not disappoint here--his ability to cut through the crap and share his insights on the absurdities of the world never ceases to amaze me. There are a handful of people that I have true brain crushes on, people I can only dream of being as intelligent and insightful and talented as--Ray Bradbury, my dear friend Ana, Kurt Vonnegut. I'm sure there are others that are escaping my mind at the moment, but hopefully my point has been made.

And yeah, I liked this book. A lot.

*****

Projects progress:
--50x50 #38. Read 50 books borrowed from someone else. (Rich)




6 comments:

Ana @ things mean a lot said...

Debi! You did not just say my name in the same sentence as Bradbury's and Vonnegut's. The sheer absurdity of that might make the universe implode ;) Thank you, though - as much as I may disagree, I hope you know I truly appreciate your kindness <3

As for the book, WAAAANT. I really need to make the time to go through Vonnegut's entire back catalogue.

Snowball said...

I read this book years ago and loved every bit of it. Vonnegut does indeed pack quite a bit into a few words

Kailana said...

I haven't read anything by Vonnegut in ages. I really should!

Jean said...

I shall have to think about this as a gift for a couple of people. Thanks for sharing!

Debi said...

Ana,
Yes, I did. Because it belongs there. And yes, I *knew* you would disagree, but it doesn't change my reality. :)
And I really need to go back and reread all of his books I've read in the past and fill in the gaps I've missed! He's been missing from my reading life for far too long!

Snowball,
It was an awesome little read, wasn't it?

Kelly,
Yep--you should. :P

Jean,
The quirkiness of this book actually reminds me of you. And I hope you know that is a very good thing!

Chris said...

Debs, I actually HAVE this book on my Nook! Now I have to read it! I just downloaded because I loved the title and it was Vonnegut but knew nothing about it :p Now that I do it sounds amazing!! And Ana, your name totally belongs in that company :) Couldn't agree with Debi more...we're still waiting for that book of essays you know :p