Kurt Vonnegut made me cry today. I was getting ready to walk to yoga in the park, listening to Armageddon in Retrospect in the locker room of my office building, and "Spoils" hit me, hard. It was actually kind of comical. I was jamming my feet into shoes when I cottoned to the rug that was about to be pulled out from under me. I actually looked up and caught my reflection's eye in the mirror, like, "Can you believe this is about to happen to us?" I watched my face crumple. My nose turned red instantly. My eyes spilled over immediately. Nothing to do but wait it out, so I kept listening while I dabbed at my face with a paper towel from the handy dispenser.
The last time Kurt Vonnegut made me cry, it was because he died. The bastard. We were all on Myspace then and a writer I admired posted a blog entry about him, closing with something about him being up in heaven now, meant of course to be a joke. We watched in smug horror as people lined up to agree and offer platitudes. Obviously they didn't know him like we did.
"Spoils" is a cheap trick, a slow build to a clownishly obvious break, a kick in the kidney that happens in slow motion. But I'm sitting here hoping I didn't spoil it for you. I hope you read it. Or let Rip Torn read it to you. He did a pretty awesome job.
"The Unicorn Trap" gives back what "Spoils" takes away, by my reckoning, so I'd recommend taking the two together.
As for me, I'm going to bed. As soon as I finish the book. 26 minutes left of listening, and my sheets are in the dryer. So tired I'm thinking about leaving them there and sleeping without them.
From the introduction - "Reading and writing are in themselves subversive acts. What they subvert is the notion that things have to be the way they are, that you are alone, that no one has ever felt the way you have. What occurs to people when they read Kurt is that things are much more up for grabs than they thought they were. The world is a slightly different place just because they read a damn book. Imagine that."
Good night, rebels.