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things from Timequake

So, I'm getting married in September. We'd like to have a few readings in the ceremony, and I'm trying to find something appropriate.

There's one writer, above all else, who writes the things my heart already feels. And that's Kurt Vonnegut. We agree on pretty much everything except semicolons. Unfortunately, as my good friend calamityjon said in another forum, "as much as I [Jon] love Vonnegut and am touched by his unrelenting humanity, his fiction is almost limitlessly bleak." And Jon's right! So I don't know how much luck I'll have finding something appropriate. But I'm re-reading stuff anyway.

I haven't read all of his oeuvre, far from it, but it seems to me that as his writing career progressed, he gave himself larger and larger roles in his novels. One of his later novels is Timequake. I adored this book when I read it, but it's not for a casual Vonnegut fan (or a novice.) There's too much Kurt in it. If you already love Kurt, that's okay; you want to hear what he has to say about art and science and beer and war and buying envelopes and getting cancer of the everything. If you don't already love him, you'll wonder why he's telling you all of these things but not actually, you know, telling you the story he said he was going to tell you.

I didn't get anything wedding-reading-worthy, I don't think. But there's some stuff in it that is right and true, and I wanted to write it all down before I returned the book to the library. Here they are. The numbers indicate the chapter from which the excerpt is excerpted.

I gave advice, too. I said, "My uncle Alex Vonnegut, a Harvard-educated life insurance salesman who lived at 5033 North Pennsylvania Street, taught me something very important. He said that when things were really going well we should be sure to notice it.

"He was talking about simple occasions, not great victories: maybe drinking lemonade on a hot afternoon in the shade, or smelling the aroma of a nearby bakery, or fishing and not caring if we catch anything or not, or hearing somebody all alone playing a piano really well in the house next door.

"Uncle Alex urged me to say this out loud during such epiphanies: 'If this isn't nice, what is?' "

The third is from my son Mark, pediatrician and watercolorist and sax player. I've already quoted him in another book: "We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is."

I asked my big brother Bernie in the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and this was long before the period of the rerun, whether he believed in Darwin's theory of evolution. He said he did, and I asked how come, and he said, "Because it's the only game in town."

Bernie's reply is the tag line of yet another joke from long ago, like "Ting-a-ling, you son of a bitch!" It seems a guy is off to play cards, and a friend tells him the game is crooked. The guy says, "Yeah, I know, but it's the only game in town."

Listen: We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different!

Many people need desperately to receive this message: "I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people don't care about them. You are not alone."


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 4th, 2010 12:24 am (UTC)
Cat's Cradle HAS to be filled with sappy stuff about karass & whatever, right?
May. 4th, 2010 06:44 pm (UTC)
I like these quotes. I've never read Vonnegut but now I'm feeling like I should.
May. 4th, 2010 08:28 pm (UTC)
You're the same color as Manning on my friends' page, so I thought he was getting married, which was all kinds of weird. Not the least reason being that this was how I heard about it.

But then I realized it was you and it made me happy and excited for you all over again that you're getting married.
May. 20th, 2010 06:35 pm (UTC)
Timequake quotes and wedding readings
I am another one who doesn't agree with the semicolons ban, but with almost everything else KV published. (Another thing I as a Hungarian don't agree with is what he said about having a Hungarian for a friend in Timequake.)Thanks for typing and publishing these great quotes.

For your wedding try to google readings from secular humanist pages. I found some rather inspiring lines there a few months ago.
Oct. 25th, 2010 11:49 am (UTC)
Did you find a quote? I'm in the exact same boat, getting married over here in Australia in December. Would love to know.

Oct. 27th, 2010 10:23 pm (UTC)
Re: Vonnegut
I ended up using the first one, about Uncle Alex. And then we incorporated the phrase "if this isn't nice, what is?" into the ceremony a time or two. It was a big hit!
Jul. 9th, 2011 12:38 pm (UTC)
I'm going to try to work some these in to our wedding, taking place this September, 2011. These are great! I've been trying to find something in Vonnegut and I thought maybe the Harmoniums in "Sirens of Titan", but that didn't quite have anything. These are really good though!
Thanks! :)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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