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