Posts tagged ‘Cat’s Cradle’

AND SO IT GOES KURT VONNEGUT: A LIFE by CHARLES SHIELDS

If you’ve read Slaughterhouse – Five: A Children’s Crusade and enjoyed the hell out of it as I did, you owe it to yourself to read this biography and get to know the man behind the work. Reading about Vonnegut’s life and his journey on the rocky road to fame gives you a background into the birth of his novels and will encourage you to read more. I plan to seek out Breakfast of Champions and Cat’s Cradle to my to-read list. One event described in the book that deeply affected Vonnegut’s family life was the death of his brother-in-law in 1958 and I have a vivid memory of that tragic accident for I visited the site shortly after it happened. A train bound for New York was about to cross the Newark-Bayonne Bridge over the Newark Bay. The bridge was open for a passing barge, and as the train approached to open bridge the engineer suffered a heart attack. The fireman tried to stop the train but couldn’t. Two engines and three passenger cars plunged into the bay with the loss of 47 lives. I still recall pictures published in Life magazine taken while the cars were being raised from the water with bodies hanging from the windows. Published photos were more graphic back then. Perhaps it was the next day when, after school, I walked to the local library annex, one of my favorite places. I was eleven. The library was a short distance from school and it feels like kids had more freedom then, even in a rough town like Newark you were able to wander on your own. After settling in, my sister found me and said my family was outside in our car and that I should come along. They were heading for the train wreck. As were approached the bridge there were cars parked all along the road. Coming upon the scene I remember one car still dangling from the track and partially in the water. Everything else was still submerged. Sorry for the digression. Vonnegut’s brother-in-law’s wife, the writer’s sister, died the same day and Vonnegut wound up supporting their four sons. I took a little detour with the above memory, but once again, this is a biography worth reading.

April 22, 2014 at 6:06 pm Leave a comment


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