Today's Blogs

So It Goes

Bloggers mourn Kurt Vonnegut and scratch their heads at a deadly Green Zone breach.

So it goes: Writer Kurt Vonnegut died Wednesday at 84 from complications from a brain injury. His novels, such as Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse-Five, transfixed many a student with their wry and imaginative evocations of post-World War II upheaval. Bloggers are full of lament and reverence.

Dave Coustan at Earthling describes the Internet chatter as “like reading dozens of quiet and personal eulogies.” One such eulogy, by freelance writer John Scalzi at Whatever, begins: “This is why, when I turn 70, I’m moving to a single level house. [T]he man was brilliant and despite that, I enjoyed many of his books. Funny how being brilliant doesn’t always equate to creating books that are good reads. This wasn’t much of a problem for Vonnegut. Something for other brilliant authors to note and learn, hopefully.”

At The Huffington Post, history professor Joseph A. Palermo portrays Vonnegut as the hero of an age: “The baby boom generation has its stars writers, but Vonnegut had something far more bold and authentic to say than any novelist born after World War II. The world has lost one its best, most imaginative writers ever to crawl out of the muck. We need Vonnegut’s voice more than ever today with all of the misguided policies and authoritarian politics spewing forth from Washington.”

Bob Sutton, author of The No Asshole Rule, shares his own experience—and a postcard from Vonnegut—at Work Matters: “The process of writing The No Asshole Rule entailed many fun twists and turns.  But the very best thing happened when I wrote for permission to reprint a Kurt Vonnegut poem called ‘Joe Heller,’ which was published in The New Yorker.  I was hoping that Vonnegut would give me permission to print it in the book, both because I love the poem … and Vonnegut is one my heroes … I wrote some anonymous New Yorker address to ask permission to reprint the poem, and to my amazement, I received this personal reply from Vonnegut about two weeks later.”

Jeremiah McNichols recalls at thinkingpictures his interview with Vonnegut for a college newspaper piece:“I liked you a lot and am one of the many tremendously grateful fans of your work, and I hated saying what I believed was true about you. What I believed was this: That as a cultural figure your work was already finished, your voice had lost much of its relevance, and that young writers should not let you dampen their spirits.”

Read more about Vonnegut’s death. Edward Champion rounds up an impressive collection of Vonnegut interviews and reviews of his work. Maud Newton posts audio links and collects some of her own writings about Vonnegut.

Parliament smokes: In the deadliest attack in the Baghdad Green Zone to date, a suicide bomber blew himself up into the cafeteria of the Iraqi parliament, killing at least eight other people. Bloggers have a sinking feeling about reconstruction efforts.

Conservative Andrew Sullivan shares video of the attack and calls Iraq “a country in collapse.” At Informed Comment, professor and war critic Juan Cole writes: “John McCain’s silliness about how safe it is to walk around Baghdad should be decisively put to rest by this incident. Security is clearly getting worse in Iraq, not better.”

Conservative Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters examines the fallout: “This will probably create an almost insurmountable problem for Nouri al-Maliki and his government. Already, Iraqi politicians have declared the new security plan a failure. They will not allow this attack to go without some accountability from the government and perhaps an abandonment of the new joint Iraqi-US plan put in place earlier this year. That would put the Bush administration in a difficult position; if the Iraqis declare the new Baghdad security plan a failure, his domestic political support for the war will collapse entirely.”

Kel at the left-wing Osterley Times remains skeptical: “Although US commanders continue to insist that the violence is falling in Baghdad, they don’t point out that they are referring to one particular type of violence in one Iraqi city. The very one that the insurgents today laid waste to.”

Read more about the bomb attack.