Author Kurt Vonnegut Dies at Age 84
Vonnegut, who also wrote Cat's Cradle, Breakfast of Champions and other books, had suffered brain injuries after a recent fall at his Manhattan home, according to his wife, photographer Jill Krementz, the Associated Press reports.
The author of books, short stories, essays and plays was "a marvelous writer with a style that remained undeniably and imperturbably his own," writer Norman Mailer said in a statement Thursday. "I would salute him as our own Mark Twain."
"He was sort of like nobody else," author Gore Vidal said in a statement. "Kurt was never dull."
Vonnegut served in World War II and was taken prisoner during the Battle of the Bulge. He was being held in Dresden when Allied forces firebombed the German city, and survived by huddling with other POWs in an underground meat locker labeled slaughterhouse-five.
His novel inspired by that ordeal was published at the height of America's involvement in Vietnam and embraced by opponents of the war, solidifying Vonnegut's reputation as a rebel. He lectured often, urging people to think for themselves and criticizing the social institutions he considered dehumanizing.
"I like to say that the 51st state is the state of denial," he told the Associated Press in 2005. "It's as though a huge comet were heading for us and nobody wants to talk about it. We're just about to run out of petroleum and there's nothing to replace it."
Vonnegut, who had homes in Manhattan and the Hamptons, adopted his sister's three young children after she died, the AP reports. He also had three children of his own with first wife Jane Marie Cox and later adopted a daughter, Lily, with Krementz, who was his second wife.