Slaughterhouse Five was handed to me by my english teacher in high school when he learned I liked Tom Stoppard, Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. He took me down the hall to the supply room one afternoon and he gave me a little paperback book (pictured right) that he picked up off of a large pile of the same and said, "read this, I think you'll enjoy it".
I read it and somehow it went over my head. Maybe I read it too fast, maybe I wasn't paying attention, maybe I was expecting it to be exactly like Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams, I don't know.
I picked it up again years later when I stumbled upon the film version on Movie Central one rainy afternoon (I don't really remember if it was raining, but it fits the story so ...). There was some spark in the film that inspired me to go back to the source material and this time, I got it and I enjoyed it - immensely, to be perfectly honest. I had finally begun to appreciate Vonnegut as more than just an important literary figure, I now had my own personal experience with his work to reference and a desire to read more from the guy.
Anyway, news is out that he passed away yesterday at the age of 84 as a result of complications from brain injuries incurred when he fell in his home. He will be missed. He had a good run, 84 is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but it's always hardest when you lose the brightest lights. Hell, I'm still reeling at the loss of Eisner, Toth, Altman...the list goes on.
My very sincerest condolences to his wife, Jill Krementz, and to his family in their time of grief.