Tuesday, March 13, 2012
the last book I ever read (Cat's Cradle, excerpt two)
from Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle:
The Crosbys didn't know Minton, but they knew his reputation. They were indignant about his appointment as Ambassador. They told me that Minton had once been fired by the State Department for his softness toward communism, and the Communist dupes or worse had had him reinstated.
"Very pleasant little saloon back there," I said to Minton as I sat down.
"Hm?" He and and his wife were still reading the manuscript that lay between them.
"Nice bar back there."
"Good. I'm glad."
The two read on, apparently uninterested in talking to me. And then Minton turned to me suddenly, with a bittersweet smile, and he demanded, "Who was he, anyway?"
"Who was who?"
"The man you were talking to in the bar. We went back there for a drink, and, when we were just outside, we heard you and a man talking. The man was talking very loudly. He said I was a Communist sympathizer."
"A bicycle manufacturer named H. Lowe Crosby," I said. I felt myself reddening.
"I was fired for pessimism. Communism had nothing to do with it."
"I got him fired," said his wife. "The only piece of real evidence produced against him was a letter I wrote to the New York Times from Pakistan."
"What did it say?"
"It said a lot of things," she said, "because I was very upset about how Americans couldn't imagine what it was like to be something else, to be something else and proud of it."
"But there was one sentence they kept coming to again and again in the loyalty hearing," sighed Minton. "'Americans,'" he said, quoting his wife's letter to the Times, "'are forever searching for love in forms it never takes, in places it can never be. It must have something to do with the vanished frontier.'"