To the Editor:
In a recent letter to the editor, Romain Gary asserts that I took the name “Genghis Cohen” from a novel of his to use in a novel of mine, The Crying of Lot 49. Mr. Gary is totally in error. I took the name Genghis Cohen from the name of Genghis Khan (1162-1227), the well-known Mongol warrior and statesman. If Mr. Gary really believes himself to be the only writer at present able to arrive at a play on words this trivial, that is another problem entirely, perhaps more psychiatric than literary, and I certainly hope he works it out.
New York City.
Listen to Kurt Vonnegut’s first public reading of Breakfast of Champions, three years before it was published, here.
Artist Nathan Gelgud illustrates a scene from Listening for Madeleine, Leonard S. Marcus’s oral biography of writer Madeleine L’Engle.
"Fill your house with stacks of books In all the crannies and all the nooks."
“Treating the familiar as unfamiliar draws out the absurdity in the world we have created, allowing us to see our existence anew. It makes our objects and actions seem silly in some cases and ridiculous in others. What has been hidden in normality is exposed. This fresh context brings surprise, and surprise mixed with the absurd usually results in humor.”
—David Holub on Kurt Vonnegut, who was born on this day in 1922. Read more from a Vonnegut roundtable held earlier this year here.
I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head
and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear
I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center. I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easily as breathing in
I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
and that necessary.
~ Etiquette for Gentlemen; or, Short Rules and Reflections for Conduct in Society, by A Gentleman, 1847