Dr. Paul Ortiz, associate professor in the UF history department, will present a talk entitled “Why I Love Kurt Vonnegut” at 6:30 pm on Nov. 15 at the Unitarian Fellowship of Gainesville, located at 4225 NW 34th St.
Kurt Vonnegut is remembered as a primary source for reflecting on the rapid changes in our society during the twentieth century, told in a voice deep in irony, sharp critical analysis, and his greatest trademark, biting humor.
Shaped by a mid-western upbringing in Indiana, he was a prisoner of war in Dresden, Germany in World War II. Thanks to being captive in an underground lock-up, he survived the massive Allied firebombing of the city, and then participated in helping dig out the bodies of the dead.
These events were part of his first widely acclaimed 1961 novel “Slaughterhouse 5” (others had preceded it beginning in 1953 with “Player Piano”), and this experience no doubt contributed to his critical view of modern society.
Other novels of his include “Cat’s Cradle,” “Breakfast of Champions,” and “Mother Night. In 2015, Vonnegut was selected, posthumously, for the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.
That Kurt Vonnegut books are there to read for this and future generations is a wonderful thing; they are insightful, wildly entertaining, and remind us that the world we live in was not always like this, and that despite the madness of our modern times, we can find humor a useful ally in understanding and dealing with life.
Paul Ortiz is the Director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at UF, a well loved and inspiring professor, and an active member of Veterans for Peace, Alachua County Labor Coalition, and United Faculty of Florida.
He has published and taught in several areas of history, as well as Latino studies and documentary studies.
The event is hosted by the Humanist Society of Gainesville as their regular monthly meeting; it is free and open to the public.