Provocative, harrowing and funny to the end

Karen R. Long in the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Screenhunter_03_apr_13_1431When Kurt Vonnegut died Wednesday night in Manhattan, he had a drawing ready, a simple doodle really, of a bird cage standing empty, its door flung open.

Underneath the image is a simple “Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. 1922-2007,” the only post Thursday on the writer’s official Web site. His quick sketch amounted to the perfect exit line — accessible, playful, a hint of giving death the slip.

Like some of Vonnegut’s writing, in fact. The topic of mortality supplied Vonnegut with endless lines — from his jokes about having the bad taste to live until he was 84 to his famous refrain whenever a character dies in “Slaughterhouse-Five”:

“So it goes.”

That funny, harrowing book, published in 1969, quickly became an anti-establishment coda on the absurdities and horrors of war. Vonnegut took his acrid memories of surviving the 1945 Allied firebombing of Dresden, Germany, as a prisoner of war, and turned them into a semi-autobiographical riff, a science-fiction-fueled work of art.

More here.