This collection of little pieces and essays and reminisces and art is so delightfully disparate that a review won’t do. Instead, some peppered quotes to whet your appetite.
As a humanist, I love science. I hate superstition, which could never have given us A-bombs.
If Jesus were alive today we would kill him with lethal injection. I call that progress. We would have to kill him for the same reason he was killed the first time. His ideas are just too liberal.
I got a letter a while back from a man who had been a captive in the American penal system since he was sixteen years old. He is now forty-two, and about to get out. He asked me what he should do. I told him what Karl Marx would have told him: “Join a church.”
The very best thing you can be in life is a teacher, provided that you are crazy in love with what you teach, and that you classes consist of eighteen students or fewer. Classes of eighteen students or fewer are a family, and feel and act like one.
And how should we behave during this Apocalypse? We should be unusually kind to one another, certainly. But we should also stop being so serious. Jokes help a lot. And get a dog, if you don’t already have one.
An old woman survivor in a story about the bombing of Dresden (of the bombers and their lethal inaccuracy he says “they must have been briefed by a Ouija board”) says:
“I screamed and I wept and I clawed the walls of our shelter,” an old lady told me. “I prayed to God to ‘please, please, dear God, stop them. On they came, wave after wave. There was no way we could surrender; no way to tell them we couldn’t stand it anymore. There was nothing anyone could do but sit and wait for the morning.” Her daughter and grandson were killed.
The night before a character faces the ultimate penalty for a brave and courageous stand against tyranny, Vonnegut writes:
Elmer suddenly felt the terror and loneliness and pain-to-come that were the price for the perfect thing he was doing – the price of the taste of a drink from a cold, pure spring. They were far worse than shame could ever be.
And finally, a noble character in another story who is eventually destroyed by a colleague named Dr. Lucifer J. Mephisto we learn:
“Stick to the word ‘playful,'” said Dr. Tarbell. “And if you’ll investigate the history of science, my dear boy, I think you’ll find that most of the really big ideas have come from intelligent playfulness.
Your Correspondent, A hug would cork his cry-hole