September 25, 2008

My Favorite Author: Kurt Vonnegut

Hi all! I thought I'd jump right in and introduce myself with a "favorite author" post. As I was thinking about it, I realized it's almost impossible for me to pick a single favorite author. But today, I guess I'd have to say Kurt Vonnegut tops my list.

What do I love about Vonnegut? His humor. His interesting ideas. His unusual structure choices. His brevity and amazingly succinct word choices. That I can endlessly reread his books and still find them interesting. Frankly, just about everything.

If I was forced to pick a favorite novel, it would probably be Bluebeard. The novel tells the story of Rabo Karabekian, an elderly abstract artist with a secret hidden in his potato barn. The story centers around Rabo's relationship with Circe Berman, a woman he finds annoying but also engaging, who simply shows up on his beach one morning and moves in. The story loosely mirrors the Bluebeard fairy tale (but without all the dead wives locked in a room).

I also love Cat's Cradle, the story of a family of eccentric geniuses and a compound that could end the world. And Slaughterhouse Five, a science-fiction novel about a man who is "unstuck" in time, that is also highly influenced by Vonnegut's own experiences as a POW during WWII. And Welcome to the Monkey House, a collection of short stories that includes the story "Harrison Bergeron", which has the honor of being one of the few force-fed high school English readings that I truly fell in love with almost immediately. Really, I enjoy pretty much all of his work and would recommend it all.


Since my "favorite author" changes with my mood, I thought I'd include a few of the other authors I love:

Neil Gaiman, especially The Sandman comics and American Gods.

Margaret Atwood, especially The Blind Assassin, Cat's Eye, and The Handmaid's Tale. I met Margaret Atwood at a book signing, and while I'm normally not overly impressed with celebrity, was completely tongue-tied and overwhelmed. I think I managed to squeak out a "thank you, I love your work," and that was it.

T. C. Boyle, especially his short fiction.

Orson Scott Card, especially Ender's Game and the Alvin Maker series.

The incomparable Jane Austen.

Janet Evanovich, whose Stephanie Plum mysteries I unapologetically love and reread whenever I need a laugh.

There are tons of other authors I enjoy, and I'm sure I've left plenty of favorites off my list, but I figure I better stop now before my list becomes a mile long!

I'm looking forward to being part of The Book Nook!


  1. OH MY GOD.
    I can't believe I found your blog. I think I have a secret crush on your book picks.

    Vonnegut is also my favorite author. Cat's Cradle is my 2nd favorite. My top favorite is Sirens of Titan, for the genius ending.

    TC Boyle - WOW. My favorite living contemporary author. I generally love his short fiction but Tortilla Curtain is the one novel I recommend to anyone wanting to read something to make them think.

  2. I think you and I are going to get along juuuuust fine. ;) The only one on your list I have not read is Janet Evanovich, just because I'm a snob and tend to stick my nose up at anything that ends up on the grocery stores 25% off shelf.

    My favorite Vonnegut is Breakfast of Champions. The whole "unwavering band of light" philosophy really spoke to me. He is so amazing, takes things that appear complicated to us, removes the veil and shows it to us in brilliant clarity. I was so sad when he died!

    I also really like TC Boyle, the only book of his I've ever had to put down was Drop City, just couldn't get into it. I once wrote a paper comparing The Tortilla Curtain with East is East after realizing they were practically the same book. He wrote East is East first, but I guess he felt it just didn't hit home the way it was meant to, so wrote Tortilla Curtain in a more obvious setting. That's my theory anyway. ;)

  3. I just can't believe you have time to read :P Share your secret time management system!! :)

  4. LauraC: I think we might be twins, what with our book tastes (oh, and our b/b twins :).

    Memarie: I felt the same way about Janet Evanovich (and am also something of a book snob from time to time), but I bowed to peer pressure and am glad I did as she's one of the few authors where I regularly find myself laughing out loud as I read. I'm not going to argue it's great literature, but it's really silly and light and fun. And how awesome to "meet" another TC Boyle fan!

    Nancy: my time management schedule includes very little time set aside for cleaning :) Who can clean when there are so many great books to read!

  5. I read a couple of things by Vonnegut in high school and can appreciate him to a certain extent. He's a little too out there for me, though.

    Thanks for reminding me that I want to read Ender's Game.

    I look forward to reading your reviews!


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