Kurt Vonnegut, one of the most popular novelists of the 20th century, died yesterday at 84 in Manhattan. Defying genres, he wrote on everything from the firebombing of Dresden to alien abduction—and that was just Slaughterhouse-Five.
Vonnegut’s prolific store of riotously pessimistic novels are found, Dinitia Smith writes, “in the back pockets of blue jeans and in dorm rooms on campuses throughout the United States.” His last novel emerged to mixed reviews in 1997, when he retreated to private life, surfacing occasionally as a vicious critic of the Bush administration and the gluttonous annihilation of the environment. “It's over, my friend,” Vonnegut told Doug Brinkley in Rolling Stone last year. “The game is lost.” So it goes.