Thursday, April 12, 2007

So it goes

Kurt Vonnegut is in heaven now.

I know he died as a result of head injuries, but I have to wonder...did he fall out of a tree?

Somebody tell me he fell out of a tree.

How many educations and confirmations did I get from the writings of Kurt Vonnegut? I really can't say. My education on the Dresden fire bombing....that was Kurt's. My introduction to humanism and a further confirmation of the simple, essential wrongness of war and so much more.

I've read criticisms of Mr. Vonnegut's writings calling them simplistic, confusing, even worthless. How is it then, that 20 years after I've read Slaughterhouse Five that I can recall a simple detail and attribute it to that book and go search out that book to get a little illumination on that subject? Hell, I'm surprised I remember anything for that long, let alone a bit from a book.

For about 20 years he's been helping me get through this thing, whatever it is, and for that, too, I am grateful.

They've wormed their way into my psyche and being. They're a part of me. And that part of me is possibly never mature. Thank you Mr. Vonnegut for these gifts. I'll get to grow that part of me the rest of my life. Perhaps it is human suffering and the simple, bright light he used to illuminate it that reached inside me and grabbed my soul by the shirt collar.

I have to wonder, too, if up in Heaven, he's saying "If this isn't good, what is?" I'll have to ask him when I get there.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Book Review: The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams

The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams is a modern-day adult fairy tale. The main character, Theo Vilmos is an underacheiving garage band singer who finds himself tossed into the land of Faerie by a tiny sprite when an undead creature shows up at his cabin to kill him.

As the story progesses, we learn all about Faerie and its similarities to and differences from the human realm. Theo is an anti-hero with few redeeming qualities other than a great singing voice and good looks. Along his travails in faerie (while still being chased by an unstoppable undead creature who can find Theo anywhere -- or at least whenever the novel's pace slowed to a near-backwards crawl) one expects Theo to have some epiphany that will make him not so much of a self-absorbed slacker. He falls in love with a fairy, learns he is a fairy, develops a few friendships ... and he remains as flat and two-dimensional as the sorry underachieving part-time singer we're introduced to in the beginning.

The pace of the novel is horrendously slow. Descriptions go on for pages yet offer little to illuminate the subject, the world, or the plot. The characters never fill out -- they're all cardboard cut-outs. We have self-absorbed anti-hero who foibles his way to victory, smart-assed side-kick, beautiful self-absorbed and -unsure love interest, oh and there's always Satan lurking in the background pulling strings and weilding unfair and awesome powers to suit his purposes. NO, he's not called Satan but if the similarities were laid any thicker I would have laughed my way through the book.

For 800 pages, this book had very little substance to it. It remained flat, undeveloped and incredibly dull. Very disappointing with few redeeming qualities.

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