Tuesday, February 21, 2012
the last book I ever read (And So It Goes, excerpt four)
from And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life by Charles J. Shields:
The first thing Vonnegut noticed about his guest was his long, intelligent face and whiskery Vandyke beard, which, added to his rawboned frame, made him resemble a carnival magician. Despite being one of the most widely anthologized American science fiction writers, Sturgeon was haggard looking. He had been writing nonstop for days. His readership for new novels was rather small, and despite his standing in the literary community of his peers, reviewers ignored him. What the conversation at dinner was like, Vonnegut couldn't recall later, but he never forgot what followed.
In high school, Sturgeon had been captain of his gymnastic team, and he announced that he would perform one of his best trucks. Clearing away some of the furniture in the living room, he stood with his feet together, back straight, arms outstretched, and suddenly he whirled backward in a flip. But instead of landing upright, he hit the floor on his knees, shaking the whole house.
Struggling to his feet, "humiliated and laughing in agony," Kurt could tell, Sturgeon would become the model for one of Vonnegut's best-know characters: Kilgore Trout, the wise fool of science fiction, ignored, sold only in pornographic bookstores, and half-mad with frustration. But Sturgeon wasn't a fictional character--his reversals and the blows to his pride were real. And Kurt was afraid he had just witnessed a glimpse of his own future, too. "Kilgore Trout is the lonesome and unappreciated writer I thought I might become."