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Like lots of other people out there, I was sad to learn about Kurt Vonnegut’s death last week. But though I was all but raised on his novels, the first piece of writing by him that I fondly recalled when I heard the news wasn’t Cat’s Cradle, Breakfast of Champions, or Welcome to the Monkey House. A bit of PR for a paper company came up first. In the early ‘80s International Paper featured Vonnegut in a two-page ad, giving him the real estate to offer some advice on how to improve your writing. The ad may have appeared in tons of places, but I remember reading it as a kid in Rolling Stone. (Geek confession: I also remember clipping it and taping it to the wall of my room. Also, I’m pretty sure the ad was the first time I heard of James Joyce.)
Vonnegut’s text is a small masterpiece, reflecting exactly the sort of concision that he demanded from the writers he’s addressing. You can read it here.