The Addict Kilgore Trout (November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007)


If it wasn’t for a most trusted friend recommending Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, I would never have been privy to the quirky, witty writings of a fella who called Schenectady, NY his home. (I mention this because it’s not too far from where I live.)

While in the thick of reading Timequake, I realized Vonnegut’s wisdom comes through his words as smoothly as Hershey’s syrup drapes over a heaping bowl of vanilla ice cream. He speaks about the irony of time passing and life speeding by. He laments the loss of meaningful moments, be it watching a play or acknowledging an act of courage. And he’s not afraid to laugh at himself or the universe.

The opening page of Timequake reads: “All persons, living and dead, are purely coincidental.” Oddly enough, that pretty much encapsulates Vonnegut’s sense of humor and use of satire.

To get back to the point, he describes one of Kilgore Trout’s “addictions” in a segment of the text. (Kilgore Trout is his “alter-ego.”) He said:

Kilgore Trout was hooked on making idiosyncratic arrangements in horizontal lines, with ink on bleached and flattened wood pulp, of twenty-six phonetic symbols, ten numbers, and about eight punctuation marks.

Please believe that I am not equating myself to a New York Times Bestselling author, but I must say this statement struck a cord with me. In the space of thirty words, Kilgore/Kurt confesses his addiction to writing. I’m taking a couple hundred more words than he, but I admit to the same.  Not only has writing become a most blessed habit of mine, it has, at times, bordered on obsession. If I’m not typing away on my laptop perched atop a pillow squared over my thighs, then I’m thinking about the next plot twist during a…ahem…boring meeting, or characterization of a protagonist on the drive to work, or, dare I say, attempt at a joke.

When did this happen? I did not snake my way out of the womb holding a pen and pad of paper. Heck, I didn’t even consider myself a “writer” in high school. I was the science nerd, the biology geek. Give me an anatomy chart filled with Latin terms pointing to their respective parts, and I fawn like Sarah Jessica Parker in a Manolo Blahnik store. I squealed when I got a copy of Gray’s Anatomy for Christmas—it was leatherbound!

I suppose it doesn’t really matter how it started. It did just the same. I’m an addict. And I don’t plan on giving up “making idiosyncratic arrangements in horizontal lines, with ink on bleached and flattened wood pulp, of twenty-six phonetic symbols, ten numbers, and about eight punctuation marks” any time soon.

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(Thank you, internet, for the use of these images!)

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