So, I'd written my assessment of Vonnegut's final work with two chapters left to read – criticizing it as a collection of depressing pieces from a grumpy, pessimistic, skeptic. Then, in the final chapter I came across this:
It may be that I am no longer able to joke – that it is no longer a satisfactory defense mechanism. Some people are funny, and some are not. I used to be funny, and perhaps I'm not anymore. There may have been so many shocks and disappointments that the defense of humor no longer works. It may be that I've become rather grumpy because I've seen so many things that have offended me that I cannot deal with in terms of laughter.
Well, shit. Undeniably poignant, it completely f*cked with my perception of everything I'd just finished reading (and made me feel like a complete ass). I'm still trying to decide if I wish he'd opened with that.
Now, about Tony and Co. If you were ever a fan and you're still trying to figure out how you feel about the finale and the series in toto, there's a concise, astute final appraisal by Rob Sheffield in this month's Rolling Stone – Ciao, Tony. It's worth the read.