Before going to Calgary I broke my “savour them” Vonnegut rule and read God Bless You Mr. Rosewater. This is the one containing the line to all the babies: “God damn it, you’ve got to be kind” (which my mom thinks is an inappropriate thing to write in a book you give to a baby). It’s about a person who is very wealthy and a weaselly man who is trying to prove him insane. Sort of. That makes it sound very plotty but it isn’t. It’s just a bunch of stuff that happens and then Kilgore Trout is there! But it’s all about madness and pain and injustice and is funny.
I think what I love most about Vonnegut books is the sense of the narrator who’s telling you about these crazy things that happen sometimes. Like the fact Rosewater owns the loudest siren in the Western Hemisphere is casually and authoritatively thrown in there without hyperbole, but a slight recognition that everything involved is probably pretty wacky if you think about it too hard. It’s probably my favourite voice for an omniscient narrator, and something I have immense difficulty replicating in my own writing. Wow. I am no Kurt Vonnegut. Shocker.