Saturday, June 03, 2006

Grumble away if you've earned it

I just finished Kurt Vonnegut's A Man Without a Country. What a guy! He's funny. He's well-read and reads well. And he's really pretty grumpy. As a rule I don't encourage grumpitude, but for anyone over 80 I think it's an earned right. After all, Vonnegut is kind enough not to grumble about physical ailments and how you can't get a decent oyster any more. He macro-kvetches about war-mongering, ecological armageddon, and how literature without technology is like sex without... actually I don't remember what the comparison was, but I was amused. Buy the book.

There are way too many angry books out there by over-plucked, fake tanned, squishy celebrity talking heads. I generally eschew grumble-ature no matter what the point of view. Why is Vonnegut the exception? I'm an ageist. And a coolist. In other words, he's an old cool smart guy with wild hair, who smokes too much and has a crush on his postal clerk. I'm willing to bet that he's never had anything plucked, at least not on purpose. I don't agree with all of his points, but I yield the floor to the honorable representative of late-life. When I'm over eighty I hope to have some of his wisdom, most of his passion, all of his clarity, and even more panache. (I am a woman after all. Panache is our gig.)

Publishing houses, take note! No more serial killer mysteries, legal thrillers, how-I-lost-the-weight-I'll-have-back-on-by-the-time-you-buy-this memoirs. No more Bridget Jones Moved My Cheese to the Da Vinci Code. It's all about cool clever people over eighty who are willing to chat you up on paper like they would at the grocery store. Let's keep the writers who've been around long enough to know a thing or two and actually remember it. That's inspirational for someone like me from Generation "I'm too young for hot flashes but too old to remember where I left the keys."

1 comment:

Bart said...

I find that Timequake (the newer edition, not the 1st edition) is a better essay formatted autobiography than Without a Country. Being a huge Vonnegut fan, Without a Country is just a bunch of statements he's already made about himself (The smoking unfiltered cigarettes so he'll die faster bit is old). And it's too Robart Fulgham for me (who is also a Unitarian).