We are what we imagine ourselves to be.

“I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over.  Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.”

The New York Times is reporting that Kurt Vonnegut died today, from a brain injury he received in a fall.  Before the blogs get clogged up with words like ‘innovator’ and ‘visionary’, and before the city wrestles out from underneath the fairly large wrench this throws into the “Year of Vonnegut”,  I just want to say that the man penned the first novel that ever truly touched me.

Yep, that’s right.  Ms. Voracious Reader, Yours Truly of the Book Club Circuit, had never cried reading a book until she picked up Cat’s Cradle. 

I started reading the book on the day after my 21st birthday, a day when nothing was going right and I was looking for something to read that reminded me of Indiana.  At the time, all I knew about “Hoosier” authors was neatly folded into Booth Tarkington, Gene Stratton Porter and Vonnegut, so I chose door #3.   

I won’t critique the book—god knows so many people have tried—but I’ll tell you that as quirky and disconcerting as this novel has been said to be, it was absolutely perfect for me at that time in my life.  It got me reading again after an extended absence.  It got me thinking again, after swearing off higher education.  And most of all, it got me dreaming again. 

“We are what we imagine ourselves to be.”

I believe strongly that a person’s way through life is full  of missed opportunities, uncharted paths, bad choices and spur-of-the-moment decisions.  If I had picked up “Girl of the Limberlost” that day, what would have happened?  Kurt, you played the tiniest of tiny roles in shaping who I am today, and I know full well how sweeping and self-important that sounds… but I think it’s the truth.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Vonnegut.  Thank you for the stories. 


2 Responses to “We are what we imagine ourselves to be.”

  1. I had to run to the Interim Library this afternoon and as I waited for the elevator, there staring back at me was the bust of Vonnegut.

    Just a little reminder of how much that guy meant to this city.

  2. Close without going over? That’s Bob Barker! He’ll tell you when the pressure’s on and you have a motorboat, living room set, and a trip to St. Croix on the line.

    My favorite Vonnegut quote is “We were put on this Earth to fart around. Don’t let anyone tell you different”. As you know, I live by this daily.

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