Listen: As I approach the birthday that inspired Kurt Vonnegut to write one of the greatest novels in American literature – and set his literary characters free – I realize that the final page contains probably the most devastating passage I’ve ever read. And it ends with this:

I somersaulted lazily and pleasantly through the void, which is my hiding place when I dematerialize. Trout’s cries to me faded as the distance between us increased.

His voice was my father’s voice. I heard my father—and I saw my mother. My mother stayed far, far away, because she had left me a legacy of suicide.

A small hand mirror floated by. It was a leak with a mother-of-pearl handle and frame. I captured it easily, held it up to my own right eye, which looked like this:

Vonnegut's crying eye

Here is what Kilgore Trout cried out to me in my father’s voice: “Make me young, make me young, make me young!”