But the Great Depression soon made clear to me that I would never amount to anything. I couldn’t even provide decent food and a bed for my worthless self, and was frequently a bum among bums in soup kitchens and shelters for the homeless.
I improved myself in libraries while keeping warm, reading histories and novels and poems said to be great - and encyclopedias and dictionaries, and the latest self-help books about how to get ahead in the United States of America, how to learn from failures, how to make strangers like and trust you immediately, how to start your own business, how to sell anybody anything, how to put yourself into the hands of God and stop wasting so much time and precious energy worrying. How to eat right.
From Kurt Vonnegut’s “Bluebeard” (1987).