For me, a love of Vonnegut began with Cat's Cradle, then was reignited, more permanently, a few years later with Hocus Pocus. Both books blew my brain apart and reconfigured it. Opened up entire worlds of possibility. Lately, it's been Mother Night. I've used it again and again in classes, and it (along with J.M. Coetzee's very different Disgrace) is one of my two favorite novels to teach. It gets students talking. It contains immense depths beneath its apparently matter-of-fact surface. It is profoundly unsettling. And (unlike Disgrace) it's got a lot of funny bits.
One of my students said, "Mr. Cheney, you seem really upset about this." I said I was, but not in a mournful way, not in the way you are for a life cut short, but rather in a more selfish way -- the way that comes from knowing you now live in a world that this person, whose consciousness was so important to your own, does not live in. I'm glad to have lived in a world that Vonnegut shared for a time, but sad to soldier on without him.
For links to Vonnegut on the web, Ed Champion's got a great list.
It's impressive how admired Vonnegut is by so many people of different tastes and ideologies. All over the internet today, writers and bloggers are noting Vonnegut's death, saying a few words of remembrance, paying some honor to him, confessing tears. Here's a list of a few of the people I've seen mentioning the man and his life: Laila Lalami, Chris Barzak, Maud Newton, Clifford Garstang, Levi Asher, Dan Green, Deb Biancotti, Steven Beattie, Matthew Tiffany, Jodee Stanley, Christopher Rowe, Sonya Taaffe, Alex Irvine, Gwenda Bond, Ben Peek, Scott Eric Kaufman, and many, many more.
For some last words from here, how about the end of the introduction to Mother Night:
There's another clear moral to this tale, now that I think about it: When you're dead you're dead.
And yet another moral occurs to me now: Make love when you can. It's good for you.