i remember hearing, a few months ago, an interview with gore vidal. vidal was so down on the world situation that the interviewer asked him if he saw any hope. i had never heard him despair before. he answered, no.
and now i read vonnegut is the same way. i like to think it’s because they’re getting old.
But then Vonnegut starts coughing, clearing his throat of phlegm, grasping for a half-smoked pack of Pall Malls lying on a coffee table. He quickly lights up. His wheezing ceases. I ask him whether he worries that cigarettes are killing him. “Oh, yes,” he answers, in what is clearly a set-piece gag. “I’ve been smoking Pall Mall unfiltered cigarettes since I was twelve or fourteen. So I’m going to sue the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company, who manufactured them. And do you know why?” “Lung cancer?” I offer.
“No. No. Because I’m eighty-three years old. The lying bastards! On the package Brown & Williamson promised to kill me. Instead, their cigarettes didn’t work. Now I’m forced to suffer leaders with names like Bush and Dick and, up until recently, ‘Colon.’”….
the article mentions vonnegut’s continual thoughts of suicide. beautifully, as i was reading this, a song came on by the tiger lilles, ‘your suicides’, with the line
you say someday that you will succeed, but you’re ninety-three next year