If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?

Mass_Ave.jpgBack in 1969, fifty years before this now, Kurt Vonnegut is publishing Slaughterhouse-Five. (How exciting!) In 1984, I am watching the film version with my then girlfriend and wishing that we had our own geodesic dome on Tralfamadore just like Billy Pilgrim and Montana Wildhack. In 1992, I am learning a transcription of the Larghetto from the Bach Harpsichord Concerto in Fm, which was played, in the film, whenever Billy Pilgrim experienced a flicker of absurd joy despite how ridiculous and truly awful much of life is. In 2007, Kurt Vonnegut is finally dying from all those Pall Malls. So it goes, but he’s in heaven now. In 2017, I am standing in class teaching Slaughterhouse-five to high-school students who look so like a field of flowers that I’m tempted to break out into a chorus of “Edelweiss.” In 2019, I am writing this post about these moments with this beautiful book which are all there, each stuck in its time like so many flies in amber or glistening beads on a string.

Thank you, Kurt!

Copyright 2019. Robert D. Shepherd. All rights Reserved.


Art: Massachusetts Avenue, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Deltapilot97 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D

For more short stories by Bob Shepherd and pieces on the reading and writing of fiction, go here: https://bobshepherdonline.wordpress.com/category/short-stories/


About Bob Shepherd

interests: curriculum design, educational technology, learning, linguistics, hermeneutics, rhetoric, philosophy (Continental philosophy, Existentialism, metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, epistemology, ethics), classical and jazz guitar, poetry, the short story, archaeology and cultural anthropology, history of religion, prehistory, veganism, sustainability, Anglo-Saxon literature and language, systems for emergent quality control, heuristics for innovation
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5 Responses to If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?

  1. Roy Turrentine says:

    My experience with Slaughterhouse5 was in college as a freshman. I was not too keen on it. Some later, I reacted to Player Piano much more positively.

    Do I recall correctly that Vonegut was a Reagan supporter? He was certainly a character.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bob Shepherd says:

    Vonnegut was aghast at Reagan. In fact, there is a joke in that. Way back in 1969, when he published Slaughterhouse-Five, Vonnegut wanted to show that Billy Pilgrim’s wife was a truly extreme right-wing nutcase, so he put a Reagan for President bumper sticker on her car AS A JOKE. It didn’t cross his mind that people would actually take someone like Reagan seriously as a presidential candidate, so when Reagan not only ran but won, it was a shock to Vonnegut (as it was to me). After all, here was a guy who was overtly racist, who hated gays, who claimed all the time that Social Security was a communist plot–he was an extremist.


  3. Roy Turrentine says:

    Thanks, Bob. I really do not know how I came by the idea V liked Reagan. I do recall thinking that the idea seemed incongruous. Like V, I was amazed at the election of Reagan. I continue to be amazed at the people who give him credit for everything from beating the Soviets to producing the peacetime economy in the 1990s.


    • Bob Shepherd says:

      Reagan’s presidency was really a corporate one because he, like Trump, was completely clueless about a great many matters. However, he did one really important thing: He knew that he understood nothing of nuclear technology and deterrence, and he listened to those people around him who did. When he learned that a nuclear war was unwinnable and that EVERYONE would lose, terribly, he dedicated himself to making peace with the Soviet Union and signing a major arms deal. So, for this history should give him credit–that the old Cold Warrior was willing to learn.


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