The Kurt Vonnegut Dictionary of His Imagination

Kurt Vonnegut was not the first author to complain about the way things are in the world — nor will he be the last — but he had the uncanny ability to tie a pedagogical lesson somewhere in with his melee of satire and witticisms. In honor of what would have been the Indiana-born novelist’s 88th birthday this week, we’ve compiled a truncated list of Vonnegutisms and illustrations so, if only for a moment, you can see the world as he did, from the eyes of Kilgore Trout to Vonnegut’s own in A Man Without A Country. In his wonderfully blunt, often impertinent off-the-cuff way, Vonnegut tells his readers exactly what is the what — from olfactory-inclined pervs to the secret ingredient in coal — leaving us with little uncertainty even in all his absurdity.

ON PEOPLE

Twerp: A guy who put a set of false teeth up his rear end and bit the buttons off the back seats of taxicabs.

Snarf: A guy who sniffed the seats of girl’s bicycles

Nelson Rockefeller: The Governor of New York City. Because of peculiar laws in that part of the planet, he was allowed to own vast areas of Earth’s surface, and the petroleum and other valuable minerals underneath the surface, as well. He owned or controlled more of the planet than many nations. This had been his destiny since infancy. He had been born into that cockamamie proprietorship.