Andy submitted this birdcage tattoo:
I got this pen-and-ink drawing by Kurt Vonnegut on my arm on January 3rd. The empty birdcage never appeared in any of his novels, but refers to a specific scene in Breakfast of Champions. The scene consists of the book’s main character, Kilgore Trout, trying to set free a pet bird he’s kept for years. When the bird refuses to leave the cage, Trout says something to the effect of “Good choice, Bill. Now you’ve still got something to wish for.”
The image first appeared as a silkscreen later in Vonnegut’s life, when he took up pen-and-ink drawing as a hobby. These were silkscreened in limited numbers and sold on Vonnegut’s website. It became the front page of his official website on the day he died.
I began reading Kurt Vonnegut when I was thirteen and found my way of thinking both reflected and transformed in his writing. He almost single handedly guided me through high school, and his death when I was sixteen felt like losing a grandparent. I chose the birdcage as a memorial because its stark, proud simplicity reminds me of everything I love about both his literary style and his philosophy. When set against the backdrop of his death, it conveys a sentiment not unlike the subtitle of his novel Slapstick: “Lonesome no more.”