written and sent March 30, 2007
Dear Mr. Vonnegut,
I will not take much of your time, as we understand there is not much time left to be taken.
I want to thank you for being a voice to me since I first encountered your works a few years ago. You see, I discovered a battered edition of Timequake in the small, forgotten library aboard my frigate. My recent history, if it has not already been given away, involved a lemon of a relationship with the Navy of the United States of America. I may never know why I did it, entirely, but I must say it seemed a very fashionable thing to do in late 2001. I had just graduated from Western Illinois University, a neighbor of yours to the west of Indiana, and it was either that, or to use my new English degree to cash in and… write. I’m kidding.
A disenfranchised veteran is nothing new, but it is new to me, all the same. Perhaps I write to you because my grandfather, now in the ground, was in the Pacific during WW II, and I thought it now was my time, too. No, I never saw anything resembling war, or death, or what I could have just as easily stayed at home and seen on TV. My father, retired now, told me that–the TV part. Maybe I’m saying I am one of this new generation, and I see it’s all wrong and hopelessly tangled, but I might as well try to do some good, as I have time to kill anyway.
Since beginning with Cat’s Cradle and the rest, I have better seen an element of the human condition so prevalent in your books. I have also grown grayer in my outlook. But what must I do, Mr. Vonnegut? It is all well and good to be all of 84, and have accumulated such a disposition, but I have a few seconds longer than you to go on this planet!
Still, I do have hope, and that is what has me at this desk now. I think kindness and peace is still possible in small doses and between commercials. I’ve seen enough of love to miss it when it’s not around (I thought it best to end on a peak instead of in one of the many valleys). Thank you once again for your words, and the many times I have found myself nodding along to what I have found amid your pages.
From 2016: Kurt Vonnegut died on April 11, 2007, several weeks after injuring himself falling down the stairs of his New York home.