Aha Moment: Jon Ronson on Kurt Vonnegut

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The World
Kurt Vonnegut is a serious writer who holds a special place in the hearts of teenagers (including a young Kurt Andersen). Jon Ronson got hooked on Vonnegut when he was 15. For his long train rides from Cardiff, Wales, to look at colleges, Ronson packed a bag with Vonnegut's novels, including Slaughterhouse Five. "It was like I was on the cusp of a new life," he remembers. "I was about to go out into the world and Vonnegut was my companion." Ronson grew up to write journalism that creatively investigates weirdness of various flavors – from alien abductions to neo-Nazi gatherings. His bestseller The Men Who Stare at Goats (made into a movie with George Clooney) is about US military programs that tried to exploit paranormal powers. Vonnegut "made me very much want to be a writer," Ronson says. At the same time, "because he puts himself in his books and he always portrays himself as quite miserable, I thought 'God, I don't want to be a writer if that's your life, all alone in a room, chain-smoking.'" "When I look back on like everything I've written time and again it's very Vonnegut-ish. Because every good story that I write is about people trying to do good in a difficult, crazy, absurd world." Ronson's new book is a collection of real-life mysteries called Lost At Sea. â?? What's your favorite Kurt Vonnegut novel and how did you first encounter it? Tell us in a comment below.
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