Friday, April 13, 2007

Years ago, after a typical workday writing about fatal car crashes and random suburban homicides for my old newspaper, I accompanied two colleagues to Princeton University to catch the last few minutes of an address by one of my all-time favorite writers, Kurt Vonnegut Jr.. We crammed into a packed auditorium and listened to Vonnegut grumpily order the students to maintain a healthy suspicion of the state. And this was the mid-90s.

Later, me, Sue and Sam barged into the offices behind the auditorium, shouting our press credentials at anyone who seemed to take notice of us. Vonnegut wasn't doing interviews, we were told, but we kept pushing forward anyhow. Finally, we'd managed to squeeze into a hallway, just the three of us, plus Vonnegut and his handler. He looked down at us (Vonnegut was a giant of a man with a thick head of brown curls, even then in his 70s) with only partial interest and started down the hall. We followed, but at a respectful distance and silently, odd for reporters well trained in the art of door-stepping. I was more than a bit intimidated. This is the man that brought to life Kilgore Trout, the aliens of Tralfamadore, and of course, ice-nine. I always wished I'd had the nerve to ask him a question.

Rest in peace, Mr. Vonnegut.

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