Originally published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 2005
Man Without a Country
By Kurt Vonnegut
SEVEN STORIES PRESS; 146 PAGES; $23.95
Kurt Vonnegut’s writing inspires a fierce devotion that seems to baffle the man himself. Novelist and amateur wrestler John Irving studied under Vonnegut at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. In a local pool hall, one of his fellow students, a boxer, dismissed Vonnegut as a sci-fi hack, and Irving threw down for a brawl right there to defend Vonnegut’s writing (although Irving cites his victory as an example of the superiority of wrestling over boxing as much as anything else).
After one of Vonnegut’s book tour readings, a friend whose suicide attempts far outnumbered Vonnegut’s tracked him down to a bar he was known to frequent and showed him where she had tattooed a quote from one of his novels — “It was all beautiful and nothing hurt” — on her neck. He responded, “What the hell did you go and do that for?”
Read the complete article at the San Francisco Chronicle.