Writing Exercise: Loneliness
Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut
First Line: “This is the closest I will ever come to writing an autobiography.”
I’ve been told that Vonnegut himself rated Slapstick a “D” so it’s kind of lame that this is the book that got me to focus in and reevaluate him. I mean, I shrugged off Vonnegut for years. No interest whatsoever in any of his titles.
And then I read this prologue.
The first 20 pages are everything to this book. To be honest, the rest of it annoyed me. Too fragmented. Weird apocalypse/political themes. I guess I interpret it all as a riff on the Adam and Eve aftermath. (Brother and Sister are One, and then divided…the fall of humanity, etc.) I only kept reading because of the voice in the beginning. To see how the complex personal essay prologue would interact with a plot-line.
Only I didn’t expect the looseness. The plot “line” is squiggly and faint and disjointed. Yet somehow, we can still feel the connections between author, narrator, and character. It makes me wonder about the writing process for Vonnegut. The prologue suggests that he wrote with themes in mind, but did he draft? Was there any “planning” before getting it out? The short sections and page-breaks remind me of a collage. I don’t think he took himself too seriously with writing…just a snap judgment, of course, but if so, was it liberating?
Also, how encouraging, the lines he quotes (in the prologue, of course) on work to his brother. First, “that a writer was a person who hated writing.” Yes, we’ve heard that before, but it bears repeating, especially when followed by, “Dear Kurt–I never knew a blacksmith who was in love with his anvil.”
Bottom Line: Hi ho.