Novelist, Former UT Scholar, Kurt Vonnegut Dies At 84

New York (WVLT/AP) -- The author of such acclaimed novels as "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Cat's Cradle" has died.

Kurt Vonnegut was 84.

He suffered brain injuries several weeks ago in a fall at his home in Manhattan.

Vonnegut was the author of at least 19 novels, as well as dozens of short stories, essays and plays.

A self-described religious skeptic and free-thinking humanist, Vonnegut used protagonists such as Billy Pilgrim and Eliot Rosewater as transparent vehicles for his points of view.

Vonnegut was perhaps most famous for the novel, "Slaughterhouse-Five," which was his effort to deal with the trauma of World War II. Vonnegut was a prisoner-of-war in Germany and survived the allied bombing of Dresden by huddling with other POW's inside an underground meat locker labeled Slaughterhouse-Five.

The novel, in which Private Pilgrim is transported from Dresden by time-traveling aliens from the planet Tralfamadore, was published at the height of the Vietnam War.

According to the University of Tennessee, prior to heading to the front lines of Germany, Vonnegut studied mechanical engineering at the university from the fall of 1943 to the spring of 1944 as part of the Army Specialized Training Program. Vonnegut returned to Knoxville to give a lecture in 2001.

Despite his commercial success, Vonnegut battled depression throughout his life, and once attempted suicide.

Literary greats are reacting to the death of author Kurt Vonnegut.

Norman Mailer is calling Vonnegut a "marvelous writer" who had a style that "remained undeniably" his own.

Mailer says he salutes Vonnegut as "our own Mark Twain."

Vonnegut is also being remembered fondly by fellow author Gore Vidal, who says "Kurt was never dull." Vidal says Vonnegut was "sort of like nobody else."

Meanwhile, writer Gay Talese says Vonnegut stood out among his peers while remaining a "very ordinary, self-effacing person."

Sales of the author's best-known books have soared in the hours after his death.

"Slaughterhouse-Five" climbed to the top ten on Amazon.com while his "Cat's Cradle" and "A Man Without a Country" moved to the Top 40.

The literary great died Wednesday after suffering brain injuries from a recent fall. He was 84.

A longtime friend and manager says there will not be a public memorial for Vonnegut but, instead, a private gathering of family and friends. Donald Farber also says other Vonnegut books are likely to come out. However, he did not offer specifics.

Copyright 2007 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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