Book #7 God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian by Kurt Vonnegut

In a series of 90-second stories on WNYC, Kurt Vonnegut imagines a series of near-death experiences. Aided by Dr. Jack Kevorkian, Vonnegut is brought to a place where he is three-fourths dead in a lethal execution facility in Huntsville, Texas. In his series of trips, Vonnegut meets 21 people, some famous, some ordinary, at the pearly gates, where he speaks briefly with them about their lives, their afterlives, and the place that they know as Heaven.

In true Vonnegut form, the interviews are extremely short, and filled with dark, subtle humor. He interviews all sorts of people–from Shakespeare and Adolf Hitler to James Earl Ray (Martin Luther King’s assassin) and a man who died trying to rescue his schnauzer from the jaws of a disgruntled pitt bull. Each interviewee has his own interests–obsessions maybe–that guide their conversations with Vonnegut. Sir Isaac Newton is obsessed with learning what the “tunnel” between life and heaven is made out of. One man, a hot air balloon enthusiast in life, encourages Vonnegut to experience a hot air balloon ride before he dies because he swears it’s better than heaven.

Interestingly, there is no hell in Vonnegut’s imagined afterlife. Even Adolf Hitler makes it to the heaven of Vonnegut’s imagination. Hitler asks, almost sheepishly, “for a small cross to be erected in the United Nations Headquarters” that bore the words “1889-1945 Entschuldigen Sie” which translates roughly to mean “I beg your pardon” or “excuse me.”

Most (regrettably, not all) of these recordings are available here at WNYC’s website. You can, of course, also read them in book form. I did both, and I strongly suggest listening!

 

1. In One Person by John Irving

2. Mathilda Savitch by Victor Lodato

3. At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson

4. Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton

5. The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers

6. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

7. God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian by Kurt Vonnegut

10 thoughts on “Book #7 God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian by Kurt Vonnegut

  1. Pingback: Book #8: My Life In France by Julia Child | serendipitous

  2. Pingback: Book #9: Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon | serendipitous

  3. Pingback: Book #10: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern | serendipitous

  4. Pingback: Book #11: The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel | serendipitous

  5. Pingback: Book #13: Divided Minds by Pamela Spiro Wagner and Dr. Carolyn Spiro, M.D. | serendipitous

  6. Pingback: Book #22 The Commitment by Dan Savage | serendipitous

  7. Pingback: Book #25: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver | serendipitous

  8. Pingback: Book #28: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh | serendipitous

  9. Pingback: Book #31: A Girl Walks Into A Bar by Rachel Dratch | serendipitous

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s