He was the Mark Twain of his century, perhaps Twain's reincarnation. (Read The Mysterious Stranger if you don't believe me.)
Vonnegut used science fiction, autobiography, and beautiful descriptions to tell cautionary tales, although his own ambition was always just to be funny.
His last major work was an essay called Cold Turkey. This is what he said:
Can I tell you the truth? I mean this isn’t like TV news, is it?
Here’s what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey.
And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we’re hooked on.
As with so much of what he said, this was absolutely spot-on, wise, brilliant, entirely American and a bit paranoid.
I personally insist on being an optimist. I believe that, if we take this struggle seriously enough, we can beat our addiction to oil, and build a new energy economy based on hydrogen and renewable energy supplies. But without the absolute consensus and urgency that the true use of a word like War entails, we will fail. Vonnegut's last words will be the obituary of our race.
Our children will die horrible deaths. And Kurt Vonnegut, up in heaven, will feel very lucky he didn't see the day, when the generation of his children and grandchildren ushered in the end of the world.
Sorry, no punchline. But I'm no Vonnegut.