The word of the day is "smooth." Everything is smoooooth today. Those of you who already know Lauren will need no encouragement to visit kidchamp.net; those of you who don't are advised to go meet her. Baby.
I keep forgetting to write about Kurt Vonnegut having been here a couple of days ago. I didn't make it to the big reading, which the Daily Iowan covered in their inimitable college-newspaper way, but in the afternoon there was a smaller workshop meeting where Vonnegut smoked his unfiltered Pall Malls (as he's about the only person with enough clout to smoke inside a university building, these days) and dispensed signature pessimism: we're killing the planet and there's no literary career awaiting us. He was insistent that we could work in advertising if necessary, and it wouldn't kill us. Then he demonstrated his telepathic act, where he closed his eyes and visualized what was wrong with someone's story. "Cut the first three pages," he said, "all you're doing is introducing yourself. And you're missing a character. You're missing Iago!" He went on to bemoan the lack of Iagos in contemporary literatureor even worse, "the boneheaded mistake of explaining how Iago got that way: he was buggered when he was four, or whatever." Which is interesting advice, but sits oddly beside the passage from Slaughterhouse-Five:
I think about my education sometimes. I went to the University of Chicago for a while after the Second World War. I was a student in the Department of Anthropology. At that time, they were teaching that there was absolutely no difference between anybody. They may be teaching that still.
Another thing they taught was that nobody was ridiculous or bad or disgusting. Shortly before my father died, he said to me, "You knowyou never wrote a story with a villain in it."
I told him that was one of the things I learned in college after the war.
After that Vonnegut said, inexplicably: "Many of you are already doomed," and Frank Conroy jumped up and quickly said: "Well, I think that's a good note to end on," and we all clapped and Vonnegut was ushered away by the young man with the cell phone and blue suit, whose job apparently was to make sure that Vonnegut stayed out of trouble.