Thursday, April 12, 2007

And so it goes: farewell, Kurt Vonnegut, honorary YA author

Kurt Vonnegut passed away yesterday. He was not an author of young adult literature but he was certainly an author for young adults interested in literature--at least he was for me.

My parents had dog-eared paperback copies of Slaughterhouse Five and Cat's Cradle that I stumbled on sometime in junior high. I read them both at my parents' encouragement, but I don't think I really got much in those initial passes (though, thanks to Vonnegut's cameo in Rodney Dangerfield's Back to School, we all know that I was in good company). Whatever of Vonnegut's message went over my twelve-year-old head, what stuck was that here was a novel that was funny and absurd, but also very, very angry and serious. It was a bit of a revelation.

Vonnegut was one of those popular adult authors who had such a deeply ingrained sensitivity to the absurdity and injustice of the world that so-called adults have made that he was bound to appeal to young readers. And given the state of things, I suspect that appeal will survive his passing for a long time to come.

UPDATE: Be sure to check out John Green's tribute at Brotherhood 2.0. (I think John's zit is getting smaller, too.)

1 comment:

Colleen Cook said...

I stopped reading for fun around eighth grade. It wasn't until I took an English elective on the works of Vonnegut my junior year in high school that I remembered why I loved to read.

Thank you for the lovely tribute.