Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Kurt Vonnegut was born 11 November 1922 at Indianapolis, Marion, Indiana to Kurt Sr. and Edith Edith (Leiber) Vonnegut who were third-generation German-American parents. Edith the daughter Albert Lieber a millionaire and Indianapolis brewer; Kurt Sr. an
architect; and his great-grandfather Clemens Vonnegut, founder of Vonnegut's Hardware Store.
||From 1928 he attend the private school - Orchard in Indianapolis. The Great Depression hit and the Vonneguts Kurt from Orchard
school after the third grade 1931/2 and enrolled him in Public School No. 43 [James Whitcomb Riley School] located just a few blocks
from the family's Illinois Street home. From 1936 till he graduated in 1940 he attended Shortridge High School in Indianapolis. He
worked on the the Tuesday staff of the nation's first and (then) only daily high school newspaper, "The Daily Echo" and he was also a
member of the Student Council and Uglyman Club. |
Briefly attending Butler University till he was told by a professor that his stories were not good enough. He enrolled in Cornell University
from 1941 to 1943  majoring in biochemistry; served as an opinions section editor on the "Daily Sun", Cornell's student newspaper
and was a member of the Delta Upsilon Fraternity.
Of the house on Illinois street is found:
... 4401 N. Illinois Street was the boyhood home of legendary author Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut lived in the home for seven of the first eight
years of his life, from 1923 to 1930. His family--including father Kurt Vonnegut Sr., mother Edith and two older siblings--moved to another
Indianapolis home after the Depression hit....Though Vonnegut lived in other Indianapolis homes, he regards 4401 N. Illinois most affectionately.
"This is the house he comes back to when he comes to town," says Melissa Hickman
Another former owner of the home, well-known architect Evans Woollen, also indulged Vonnegut on his trips down memory lane and even
befriended the author. "Not long after we moved in, Kurt appeared at the door and asked if he could see the house," remembers Woollen,
who lived in the house with his family from 1962 to 1987.
Leaving his mark
Frequent return trips aside, Vonnegut's presence is very much alive in the three-story Arts and Crafts style home. A leaded glass
window in the front door bears his parents' monogram, and the entire family left their handprints in cement outside the back door...
Kurt Vonnegut the boy is also said to have left items inside a hidden room accessible from a back staircase. The room isn't legend,
and very much exists, but the passageway is too small for an adult to reach it, says Melissa Hickman. It was one of Woollen's sons
who discovered a secret cache of eating utensils in the room....
Woollen, founder of the local firm Woollen Molzan and Partners and now a full-time resident of Colorado, says he "couldn't resist
making certain alterations," and boldly removed the ceiling that separated the living room from the master bedroom, turning the
living room into a dramatic, open space.
One of Woollen's sons recently spoke to Vonnegut and mentioned he grew up at 4401 N. Illinois.
"The house with the missing ceiling," was the author's response, according to Woollen.
Vonnegut paid a visit to the Woollen family after the structural change was made and remained silent about his feelings, but Woollen
sensed his disappointment. "He wasn't unpleasant about it," says the architect, "but I'm sure any tampering with the house would be
painful for him, and I kind of expected that." But, adds Woollen, "one doesn't live in a place just [for it] to be a museum." ...
Of course, plenty of the house's original features remain. These include all of the woodwork, the floors and a goldfish pond out back.
Surprisingly, neither Kurt Vonnegut's father or grandfather, Bernhard, both talented architects responsible for many of the city's
most-treasured historic buildings, designed the house. That task instead fell to Hoosier Willard Osier, whose work Woollen praises.
"It's a beautifully conceived and crafted house," he says...
Source: Indianapolis Business Journal
Publication Date: 10/25/2004
Author: Maurer, Katie
Joining the U.S. Army January/March 1943 [another source state 1939] during World War II ; his Army training at Carnegie Institute of
Technology [Carnegie-Mellon University] began, studying mechanical engineering. And he joined the U.S. 106th Infantry Division
in England. Kurt was taken prisoner in the Battle of the B ulge on December 14, 1944, as a battalion scout. He was then transported t
o Dresden, where he worked making a diet supplement for pregnant women. Witnessing the after math bombing raids between February
and 14, 1945 by the Royal Air Force and United States Air Force which destroyed much of Dresden, Germany. He was held a prisoner
in a meat-locker under a slaughterhouse, being among the seven American prisioners of war in Dresden to surivie the experience at
Slaughterhouse Five and among the few people to survive the total destruction of the city (which killed some 135,000 citizens)
Vonnegout was among those employed by The Germans to dig out corpses. In 1945 the Soviet troops occupied Dresen and on 22 May 1945
Kurt was May 22, 1945 to the United States. This was service earned him a Purple Heart and influenced much of his literary work.
On 1 September 1945 he married his childhood sweetheart, Jane Marie Cox, but the couple separated in 1970/1. He did not divorce Cox until
1979, [His first wife died in 1979] He has seven children: three he shared with his first wife: Mark; Edith m. Geraldo Rivera, divorced; Nanette;
he adopted his 3 of his nephews when his sister Alice died of cancer and their father was killed in a commuter train accident in New Jersey
about forty-eight hours earlier: James, Steven and Kurt Adams [Peter Nice the fourth son and infant went Birmingham, Alabama to live with a
first cousin of his father's]; and they as an infant in 1982, a daughter Lilly.
From 1945 to 1947 Kurt worked and at the City News bureau of Chicago as a police reporter and attending University of Chicago as a graduate
student anthropology, but had his M.A. thesis 'Fluctuations Between Good and Evil in Simple Tales' was rejected. In 1971 the anthropological
department accepted his novel CAT'S CRADLE (1963) in lieu of a thesis and awarded the degree.
Leaving left Chicago in 1947 for Schenectady, New York, he went to work in public relations for General Electric in their research laboratory for
over three years. While worlking a fifty-hour week, he used his free hours to write short stories.
His first story, was accepted by Collier’s in 1949 - "Report on the Barnhouse Effect," and appeared in the February 11, 1950 article for which he
received $750 (minus, of course, a 10 percent agent's commission). Writing his father of his success, Vonnegut confidently stated: "I think I'm
on my way. I've deposited my first check in a savings account and . . . will continue to do so until I have the equivalent of one year's pay at GE.
Four more stories will do it nicely. I will then quit this goddamn nightmare job, and never take another one so long as I live, so help me God."
In 1951 he moved his family to Barnstable, [Provincetown], Massachusetts and worked f ull time on his writing; supplementing his income with
occasional work. But while at the cape he did work some as an English teacher in a school on Cape Cod, wrote copy for an advertising agency. He
also opened one of the first United States Saab Car dealerships called "Saab Cape Cod" in West Barnstable, Massachusetts but failed to sell the
Swedish two-stroke SAAB cars, and went bankrupt. From 1950 to 1969 45 short stories of his were published in publications such as: The
Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and the Ladies' Home Journal. He also started the novel "Upstairs and Downstairs." and worked
on it for seven years but never did finished it.
He was offered a teaching job at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop (a two year residency); in 1965. He had returned home
to Cape Cod in 1968. In March 1969 Slaughterhouse Five first printing occured selling thousand copies, and took first place on the
New York Times best seller list. In 1970 the paperback by Delta came out selling twenty-five thousand copies and in Universal
Pictures adapted the book for a highly successful film directed by George Roy Hill. In 1970 he left to live alone in New York City.
||Kurt's graphic illustrations for Slaughterhouse-Five and furthered developed with Breakfast of Champions, which i
ncluded numerous felt-tip pen illustrations began his graphic career. He also devloped an interest in silk-screen prints, collaborated with Joe
Petro III during the 1990's. Besides creating an album cover for Phish called "Hook, Line and Sinker", which was in a traveling
exhibition for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was part of the project The Greatest Album Covers That Never Were.|
Between 1967 and 1974 Kurt Vonnegut worked at a number of schools and universities. A short list of these schools includes Harvard,
and the City College of New York. Vonnequt received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1967 and a literature award from the National
Institute of Arts and Letters in 1970. In 1974 he was awarded an honorary LHD by Indiana University, and in 1975 he was named
a vice-president of the National Institute of Arts and Letters.
|In 1984/5 he made a suicide attempt and later wrote about this in several essays (his mother committed suicide while he was in
his early twenties).
On July 9, 1999, he was honored by the Indiana Historical Society as an Indiana Living Legend. In. 2004 from July 9 to August
29 Kurt and the Vonnegut family was honored by the Indianapolis Art Center; an exhibit, titled "The Vonnegut Family of
Indianapolis: A Legacy of Creativity" was exhibit in the Churchman-Fehsenfeld Gallery.
In the September 29 Indianapolis Star it was announced that Indiana University/Bloomington’s Lilly Library has acquired
the papers of author Kurt Vonnegut, including manuscripts, correspondence, first editions, and about 50 rejection slips from
the 1940s. Library Director Lisa Browar stated the collection had been was purchased last year, 1998, but the announcement was
delayed to allow time to organize the material for researchers. The sale was brokered by Glenn Horowitz, a New York rare-book
dealer, who said Vonnegut, who is originally from Indianapolis and received an honorary degree from the university in 1973,
“was deeply committed both literally and psychologically to seeing the papers housed at Lilly Library.” The purchase
price was not disclosed.
On January 30/31, 2000, a fire destroyed the top story of his home and he suffered smoke inhalation and had to be hospitalized and was
in critical condition for four days. He survived, but his personal archives were destroyed. Vonnegut currently lives with his second wife
renowned photographer photographer Jill Krementz, in his old brownstone [townhouse] in New York City [East Side Manhattan] on East
48th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. Whom he married in November 1979; but from 1970 to 1979 had lived together. They filed
for divorce in 1991 but the petition was later withdrawn.
||He has been a lecturer at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and at Harvard University, as well as a Distinguished Professor at the City
College of New York. In May 2000, he was named to a teaching position at Smith College in Northampton, MA in September was teaching
advanced writing at Smith College and in November was named State Author for New York
dor 2001-3 and of the he said:|
"It is a most agreeable honor, with my 78th birthday only a few days away, that New York State should declare so publicly that I, although
born in Indianapolis, am one of its own. And it is a fact that most of my published works have been created within its borders, beginning with
columns I wrote for The Cornell Daily Sun, in Ithaca, where I was a member of the class of 1944. Yes, and after my service in World War Two
I went to work as a publicity man for General Electric in Schenectady, and was also a volunteer fireman in the nearby village of Alplaus. GE was
the inspiration for my first novel, Player Piano, and Alplaus for my fifth, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. . . .I have in fact followed in the footsteps
of two other native Indiana writers Booth Tarkington and Theodore Dresser, in coming to New York for the dynamic companionship of the nearly
countless world-class artists working here." - KV
Vonnegut has decided not to publish anything new for the remainder of his life; which means a novel in progress "If God Were Alive Today" is on
hold and possibly will go down as another uncompleted work of his. Despite this retreat from the spotlight, Vonnegut remains a recognizable face in
American culture. It is said that a 45 minute speech by Vonnegut demands a price of $25,000! He has spken at: the Writer's Workshop at the
University of Iowa in May, 1994; Feb 2003 he spoke at Lee Chapel at Washington & Lee University; University of Wisconsin in Madison, September
Kurt Vonnegut has referenced Lake Maxinkuckee in several of his novels and nonfiction.
Kurt Vonnegut spoke of his Lake Maxinkuckee connections - they are scattered in interviews and his published anthologies:
The one in my head is the one I swam across, all two and a half miles of it, when I was eleven years old, with my sister, five years
older than me, and my brother, nine years older than me, in a leaky rowboat near me, urging me on…”
this full quote - appreared in the the Architectural Digest magazine in the 1970s-
...I made my first mental maps of the world, when I was a little child in the summertime, on the shores of Lake Maxinkuckee, which
is in northern Indiana, halfway between Chicago and Indianapolis, where we lived in the wintertime. Maxinkuckee is five miles long
and two and a half miles across at its widest. Its shores are a closed loop. No matter where I was on its circumference, all I had
to do was keep walking in one direction to find my way home again. What a confident Marco Polo I co uld be when setting out for a
...The closed loop of the lakeshore was certain to bring me home not only to my own family's unheated frame cottage on a bluff
overlooking : the lake but to four adjacent cottages teeming with close relatives. The heads of those neighboring households,
moreover, my father's generation, had also spent their childhood summertimes at Maxinkuckee, making them the almost immediate
successors there to the Potawatomi Indians.”
...Am I sad? Not at all. Because everything about that lake was imprinted on my mind when it held so little and was so eager for
information, it will be my lake as long as I live. I have no wish to visit it, for I have it all right here. I happened to see it
last spring from about six miles up on a flight from Louisville to Chicago. It was as emotionally uninvolving as a bit of dry dust
viewed under a microscope. Again: That wasn't the real Maxinkuckee down there. The real one is in my head.”
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Vonnegut recalled his childhood as a happy time. - "Indianapolis was home. I had brother and sister and a dog and a cat and a mother
and father and the whole thing, uncles and aunts and tons of cousins," he said in a January interview. "It was all here for me
— music, science, people so smart you couldn't believe it, people so dumb you couldn't believe it, people so nice or so mean
you couldn't believe it."
On April 27, Kurt Vonnegut was scheduled to speak in Indianapolis as part of the city-proclaimed The Year of Vonnegut. On
February 28, in what was to be his last interview over the phone with Heather Augustyn is a correspondent for The Times of
Northwest Indiana,... - Kurt said of his family -
Yeah, well, I've said in my speeches that everyone needs an extended family. The great American disease is loneliness.
We no longer have extended family. But I had one. There were lots of Vonneguts in the phone book and my mother was a Lieber, and
there were Liebers there too. And at Lake Maxinkuckee there were a row of cottages, one of which we owned, and so I was surrounded
by relatives all of the time. You know, cousins, uncles and aunts. It was heaven. And that has since been dispersed.
||Charles J. Shields had the last interview with Kurt in preperation for his biography on him - he states: "I conducted the last
interview with him on March 14, 2007 which was the day he fell. His remarks won't appear until my book is published" The book is titled
"And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life" Paperback – October 16, 2012|
|In 2006, Charles Shields reached out to Kurt Vonnegut in a letter asking for his endorsement for a planned biography. The first response was
no ("A most respectful demurring by me for the excellent writer Charles J. Shields, who offered to be my biographer"). Unwilling to take no for
an answer, propelled by a passion for his subject, and already deep into his research, Shields wrote again and this time, to his delight, the answer
came back: "O.K." For the next year—a year that ended up being Vonnegut's last—Shields had unprecedented access to Vonnegut and his letters.
Indianapolis had declared the year of 2007 - the 'Year of Vonnegut' in his honor.
Indianapolis celebrates 'The Year of Vonnegut'
Monday, January 15, 2007
With a new paperback set to hit shelves and a celebration of his work underway, Kurt Vonnegut is already enjoying a banner year.
The city of Indianapolis, where the literary legend was born and raised, has declared 2007 "The Year of Vonnegut," coinciding with
Tuesday's paperback release of his latest work, A Man Without a Country.
Vonnegut, 84, insists that the slim volume of essays and simple illustrations, a sort of mini-memoir published in 2005, is his last
"I've said everything I have to say and I'm completely in print," he told the Associated Press. "Look, I'm old. Joe Namath isn't
passing footballs in the crowds anymore. You ought to see what Mozart looks like by now. I'm old, for God's sake. I'm terribly
Vonnegut, though, has mustered considerable enthusiasm for the city's year-long celebration of his writing, the announcement of which
left him "thunderstruck."
The city's exploration of Vonnegut's iconoclastic works features readings and forums designed to encourage people to visit libraries
and to read.
"This Indianapolis thing, it's a charming thing because it's about books and it's about reading," said Vonnegut. "They're able to
build it around me, so I'm glad to be a convenient hitching post for that."
Vonnegut, who has lived in New York City for decades, will visit his hometown for a free lecture on April 27. The next day, he'll
officiate as a time-caps ule containing one of his novels and works by other Indiana literary greats is sealed inside the new main
library the city is building.
The author of Slaughterhouse-Five, Cat's Cradle and nearly two dozen other books, Vonnegut often mixed dark tragedy with humour and
elements of social commentary, science fiction and autobiography. He is regarded by many critics as a key influence in shaping
20th-century American literature.
Year of Vonnegut Events
Visit the "Year of Vonnegut" Website.The year of 2007 has been proclaimed The Year of Kurt Vonnegut by Mayor Bart Peterson, the
Indianapolis C ultural Development Commission and the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library! Cultural partners throughout the
community will honor Vonnegut as a major figure in American literature with a series of events.
Kurt Vonnegut, Novelist Who Caught the Imagination of His Age, Is Dead at 84
New York Times
By DINITIA SMITH
Published: April 12, 2007
Kurt Vonnegut, whose dark comic talent and urgent moral vision in novels like “Slaughterhouse-Five,” “Cat’s
Cradle” and “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater” caught the temper of his times and the imagination of a generation, died
last night in Manhattan. He was 84 and had homes in Manhattan and in Sagaponack on Long Island.
His death was reported by his wife, the author and photographer Jill Krementz, who said he had been hospitalized after suffering
irreversible brain injuries as a res ult of a fall several weeks ago.
Mr. Vonnegut wrote plays, essays and short fiction. But it was his novels that became classics of the American counterc ulture, making
him a literary idol, partic ularly to students in the 1960s and ’70s. Dog-eared paperback copies of his books could be found in
the back pockets of blue jeans and in dorm rooms on campuses throughout the United States.
Like Mark Twain, Mr. Vonnegut used humor to tackle the basic questions of human existence: Why are we in this world? Is there a
presiding figure to make sense of all this, a god who in the end, despite making people suffer, wishes them well?
He also shared with Twain a profound pessimism. “Mark Twain,” Mr. Vonnegut wrote in his 1991 book, “Fates Worse Than
Death: An Autobiographical Collage,” “finally stopped laughing at his own agony and that of those around him. He
denounced life on this planet as a crock. He died.”
Not all Mr. Vonnegut’s themes were metaphysical. With a blend of science fiction, philosophy and jokes, he also wrote about the
banalities of consumer culture, for example, or the destruction of the environment.
His novels — 14 in all — were alternate universes, filled with topsy-turvy images and pop ulated by races of his own
creation, like the Tralfamadorians and the Mercurian Harmoniums. He invented phenomena like chrono-synclastic infundib ula (places in
the universe where all truths fit neatly together) as well as religions, like the Church of God the Utterly Indifferent and Bokononism
(based on the books of a black British Episcopalian from Tobago “filled with bittersweet lies,” a narrator says).
The defining moment of Mr. Vonnegut’s life was the firebombing of Dresden, Germany, by Allied forces in 1945, an event he
witnessed firsthand as a young prisoner of war. Thousands of civilians were killed in the raids, many of them burned to death or
asphyxiated. “The firebombing of Dresden,” Mr. Vonnegut wrote, “was a work of art.” It was, he added,
“a tower of smoke and flame to commemorate the rage and heartbreak of so many who had had their lives warped or ruined by the
indescribable greed and vanity and cruelty of Germany.”
His experience in Dresden was the basis of “Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade,” which was published in
1969 against the backdrop of war in Vietnam, racial unrest and c ultural and social upheaval. The novel, wrote the critic Jerome
Klinkowitz, “so perfectly caught America’s transformative mood that its story and structure became best-selling metaphors
for the new age.”
To Mr. Vonnegut, the only possible redemption for the madness and apparent meaninglessness of existence was human kindness. The title
character in his 1965 novel, “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, or Pearls Before Swine,” summed up his philosophy:
“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At
the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one r ule that I know of, babies —
‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ ”
Mr. Vonnegut eschewed traditional structure and punctuation. His books were a mixture of fiction and autobiography in a vernac ular
voice, prone to one-sentence paragraphs, exclamation points and italics. Graham Greene called him “one of the most able of
living American writers.” Some critics said he had invented a new literary type, infusing the science-fiction form with humor
and moral relevance and elevating it to serious literature.
He was also accused of repeating himself, of recycling themes and characters. Some readers found his work incoherent. His harshest
critics called him no more than a comic book philosopher, a purveyor of empty aphorisms.
With his curly hair askew, deep pouches under his eyes and rumpled clothes, he often looked like an out-of-work philosophy professor,
typically chain smoking, his conversation punctuated with coughs and wheezes. But he also maintained a certain celebrity, as a reg ular
on panels and at literary parties in Manhattan and on the East End of Long Island, where he lived near his friend and fellow war
veteran Joseph Heller, another darkly comic literary hero of the age.
Mr. Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis in 1922, the youngest of three children. His father, Kurt Sr., was an architect. His mother,
Edith, came from a wealthy brewery family. Mr. Vonnegut’s brother, Bernard, who died in 1997, was a physicist and an expert on
During the Depression, the elder Vonnegut went for long stretches without work, and Mrs. Vonnegut suffered from episodes of mental
illness. “When my mother went off her rocker late at night, the hatred and contempt she sprayed on my father, as gentle and
innocent a man as ever lived, was without limit and pure, untainted by ideas or information,” Mr. Vonnegut wrote. She committed
suicide, an act that haunted her son for the rest of his life.
He had, he said, a lifelong diffic ulty with women. He remembered an aunt once telling him, “All Vonnegut men are scared to death
“My theory is that all women have hydrofluoric acid bottled up inside,” he wrote.
Mr. Vonnegut went east to attend Cornell University, but he enlisted in the Army before he could get a degree. The Army initially sent
him to the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh and the University of Tennessee to study
In 1944 he was shipped to Europe with the 106th Infantry Division and shortly saw combat in the Battle of the B ulge. With his unit
nearly destroyed, he wandered behind enemy lines for several days until he was captured and sent to a prisoner of war camp near
Dresden, the architectural jewel of Germany.
Assigned by his captors to make vitamin supplements, he was working with other prisoners in an underground meat locker when British
and American warplanes started carpet bombing the city, creating a firestorm above him. The work detail saved his life.
Afterward, he and his fellow prisoners were assigned to remove the dead.
“The corpses, most of them in ordinary cellars, were so numerous and represented such a health hazard that they were cremated
on huge funeral pyres, or by flamethrowers whose nozzles were thrust into the cellars, without being counted or identified,”
he wrote in “Fates Worse Than Death.” When the war ended, Mr. Vonnegut returned to the United States and married his high
school sweetheart, Jane Marie Cox. They settled in Chicago in 1945. The couple had three children, Mark, Edith and Nanette. In
1958, Mr. Vonnegut’s sister, Alice, and her husband died within a day of each other, she of cancer and he in a train crash. The
Vonneguts took custody of their children, Tiger, Jim and Steven.
In Chicago, Mr. Vonnegut worked as a police reporter for the City News Bureau. He also studied for a master’s degree in
anthropology at the University of Chicago, writing a thesis on “The Fluctuations Between Good and Evil in Simple Tales.”
It was rejected unanimously by the fac ulty. (The university finally awarded him a degree almost a quarter of a century later, allowing
him to use his novel “Cat’s Cradle” as his thesis.)
In 1947, he moved to Schenectady, N.Y., and took a job in public relations for the General Electric Company. Three years later he
sold his first short story, “Report on the Barnhouse Effect,” to Collier’s magazine and decided to move his family
to Cape Cod, Mass., where he wrote fiction for magazines like Argosy and The Saturday Evening Post. To bolster his income, he taught
emotionally disturbed children, worked at an advertising agency and at one point started a Saab auto dealership.
His first novel was “Player Piano,” published in 1952. A satire on corporate life — the meetings, the pep talks,
the cultivation of bosses — it also carries echoes of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” It concerns an
engineer, Pa ul Proteus, who is employed by the Ilium Works, a company similar to General Electric. Proteus becomes the leader of a
band of revolutionaries who destroy machines that they think are taking over the world.
“Player Piano” was followed in 1959 by “The Sirens of Titan,” a science-fiction novel featuring the Church of
God of the Utterly Indifferent. In 1961 he published “Mother Night,” involving an American writer awaiting trial in Israel
on charges of war crimes in Nazi Germany. Like Mr. Vonnegut’s other early novels, they were published as paperback originals.
And like “Slaughterhouse-Five,” in 1972, and a number of other Vonnegut novels, “Mother Night” was adapted for
film, in 1996, starring Nick Nolte.
In 1963, Mr. Vonnegut published “Cat’s Cradle.” Though it initially sold only about 500 copies, it is widely read today in high school English
classes. The novel, which takes its title from an Eskimo game in which children try to snare the sun with string, is an autobiographical
work about a family named Hoenikker. The narrator, an adherent of the religion Bokononism, is writing a book about the bombing of
Hiroshima and comes to witness the destruction of the world by something called Ice-Nine, which, on contact, causes all water to
freeze at room temperature.
As Mr. Vonnegut was, Billy is captured and assigned to manufacture vitamin supplements in an underground meat locker, where the
prisoners take refuge from Allied bombing.
“Slaughterhouse-Five” provided another stage for his fictional alter ego, Kilgore Trout, a recurring character introduced
in “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater.” The novel also featured a signature Vonnegut phrase.
“Robert Kennedy, whose summer home is eight miles from the home I live in all year round,” Mr. Vonnegut wrote at the end
of the book, “was shot two nights ago. He died last night. So it goes.
“Martin Luther King was shot a month ago. He died, too. So it goes. And every day my Government gives me a count of corpses created
by military science in Vietnam. So it goes.”
One of many Zenlike words and phrases that run through Mr. Vonnegut’s books, “so it goes” became a catchphrase for
opponents of the Vietnam war.
“Slaughterhouse-Five” reached No. 1 on best-seller lists, making Mr. Vonnegut a c ult hero. Some schools and libraries have
banned it because of its sexual content, rough language and scenes of violence.
After the book was published, Mr. Vonnegut went into a severe depression and vowed never to write another novel. Suicide was always a
temptation, he wrote. In 1984, he tried to take his life with sleeping pills and alcohol.
“The child of a suicide will naturally think of death, the big one, as a logical solution to any problem,” he wrote. His
son Mark also suffered a breakdown, in the 1970s, from which he recovered, writing about it in a book, “The Eden Express: A
Memoir of Insanity.”
Forsaking novels, Mr. Vonnegut decided to become a playwright. His first effort, “Happy Birthday, Wanda June,” opened Off
Broadway in 1970 to mixed reviews. Around this time he separated from his wife and moved to New York. (She remarried and died in 1986.)
In 1970, Mr. Vonnegut moved in with Ms. Krementz, whom he married in 1979. They had a daughter, Lily. They survive him, as do all his
Mr. Vonnegut returned to novels with “Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday” (1973), calling it a “tale of
a meeting of two lonesome, skinny, fairly old white men on a planet which was dying fast.” This time his alter ego is Philboyd
Studge, who is writing a book about Dwayne Hoover, a wealthy auto dealer. Hoover has a breakdown after reading a novel written by
Kilgore Trout, who reappears in this book, and begins to believe that everyone around him is a robot.
In 1997, Mr. Vonnegut published “Timequake,” a tale of the millennium in which a wrinkle in space-time compels the world
to relive the 1990s. The book, based on an earlier failed novel of his, was, in his own words, “a stew” of plot summaries
and autobiographical writings. Once again, Kilgore Trout is a character. “If I’d wasted my time creating characters,”
Mr. Vonnegut said in defense of his “recycling,” “I would never have gotten around to calling attention to things
that really matter.”
Though it was a best seller, it also met with mixed reviews. “Having a novelist’s free hand to write what you will does
not mean you are entitled to a free ride,” R. Z. Sheppard wrote in Time. But the novelist Valerie Sayers, in The New York Times
Book Review, wrote: “The real pleasure lies in Vonnegut’s transforming his continuing interest in the highly suspicious
relationship between fact and fiction into the neatest trick yet played on a publishing world consumed with the furor over novel
Mr. Vonnegut said in the prologue to “Timequake” that it would be his last novel. And so it was.
His last book, in 2005, was a collection of biographical essays, “A Man Without a Country.” It, too, was a best seller.
It concludes with a poem written by Mr. Vonnegut called “Requiem,” which has these closing lines:
When the last living thing
has died on account of us,
how poetical it would be
if Earth co uld say,
in a voice floating up
from the floor
of the Grand Canyon,
“It is done.”
People did not like it here.
Correction: April 13, 2007
An obituary in some copies yesterday about the writer Kurt Vonnegut misidentified the novel in which a recurring Vonnegut character,
Kilgore Trout, was introduced. It is “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, or Pearls Before Swine,” not “
Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade.” The surname of another character, who appears in the novel
“Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday,” was misspelled. It is Philboyd Studge, not Sludge.
Correction: April 14, 2007
An obituary on Friday and in some copies on Thursday about the writer Kurt Vonnegut referred incorrectly to the military role of
the character Billy Pilgrim in the Vonnegut novel “Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade,” set in Europe
during World War II. Pilgrim was a chaplain’s assistant, not an infantry scout, although he encounters scouts in his travels
and joins up with them.
|Kurt's Book's & writing's:
- Report on the Barnhouse Effect" appeared in 1950 in Collier's.
- Player Piano (1952),(1966)
- The Sirens of Titan (1959)
- ''Penelope.'' 1960. Later revised as ''Happy Birthday, Wanda June,'' 1970.
- "Harrison Bergeron" first published in 1961
- Canary I a Cat House (1961), All stories from Canary are reprinted in Welcome to the Monkey House with the exception of "Hal Irwin's Magic Lamp."
- Mother Night (1961) (hardcover 1966)
- Cat's Cradle (1963)
- God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater; or, Pearls before Swine (1965)
- Welcome to the Monkey House: A Collection of Short Works. (1968)
- Slaughterhouse-Five; or The Children's Crusade, A Duty Dance With Death (1969) (1994)
- Happy Birthday, Wanda June (1970)[Originially ''Penelope.'' 1960]
- ''Between Time and Timbuktu; or, Prometheus Five: A Space Fantasy.'' National Educational Television Network. 1972.
- Breakfast of Champions; or, Goodbye Blue Monday (1973)
- Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons: (Opinions). (1974)
- Slapstick; or Lonesome No More (1976)
- Jailbird (1979)
- Sun, Moon, Star. 1980. A work for children, illustrated by Ivan Chermayeff.
- ''Books into Ashes.'' New York Times 4.19, February 7, 1982.
- ''Avoiding the Big Bang.'' New York Times 4.23, June 13, 1982.
- Bob and Ray: A Retrospective, June 15-J uly 10, 1982. 1982. Contributor.
- Discrimination, Affirmative Action, and Equal Opportunity: An Economic and Social Perspective. 1982. Contributor.
- Nothing Is Lost Save Honor: Two Essays. 1984. Contains "The Worse Addiction of Them All" and "Fates Worse than Death: Lecture at St. John the Divine, New York City, May 23, 1982."
- Palm Sunday: An Autobiographical Collage. (1981)
- Discrimination, Affirmative Action, and Equal Opportunity: An Economic and Social Perspective. 1982. Contributor.
- Deadeye Dick (1982)
- Galápagos: A Novel (1985)
- ''A Dream of the Future (Not Excluding Lobsters).'' Esquire 104: 74, 1985.
- ''He Leadeth Us from Porn: God Bless You, Edwin Meese.'' Nation 242.3: 65. 1986.
- ''Requiem: The Hocus Pocus Laundromat.'' North American Review 271: 29-35, 1986.
- ''Can Great Books Make Good Movies? 7 Writers Just Say No!'' American Film 12:36-40, 1987. Contributor.
- Bluebeard (1987)
- ''My Fellow Americans: What I'd Say if They Asked Me.'' Nation 247: 53, 1988.
- ''The Courage of Ivan Martin Jirous.'' Washington Post A25, March 31, 1989.
- ''Slaughter in Mozambique.'' New York Times A31, November 14, 1989.
- ''Notes from My Bed of Gloom; or, Why the Joking Had to Stop.'' New York Times 7.14, April 22, 1990.
- ''Heinlein Gets the Last Word" New York Times 7.13, December 9, 1990. Book revew.
- Hocus Pocus (1990)
- Fates Worse than Death: An Autobiographical Collage of the 1980s. (1991).
- ''Why My Dog Is Not a Humanist.'' Humanist 52.6:5-6, 1992.
- ''One Hell of a Country.'' The Guardian (London) 21, February 27, 1992. Reprinted in Ottawa Citizen A11, August 31, 1992.
- ''America: Right and Wrong.'' The Gazette (Montreal) B3, September 12, 1992.
- ''Why My Dog Is Not a Humanist.'' Humanist 52.6:5-6, 1992
- ''Miss Temptation.'' Edited by David Coperman. 1993.
- ''Make Up Your Mind.'' c. 1993.
- ''Why We Need Libraries.'' Reprinted in Utne Reader 52.6:139, 1994.
- The Vonnegut Encyclopedia: An Authorized Compendium. 1996. Author of the foreward.
- Stories on beer bottles. 1997. No kidding. The story, ''Merlin,'' muses on Galahad with automatic weapons. On 22-ounce bottles of Denver Public Libation Ale from Wynkoop Brewing Company.
- ''L'Histoire du Soldat.'' 1993, 1997. Adaptation.
- Timequake (1997)
- ''Bernard Vonnegut: The Rainmaker.'' New York Times 6.17. January 4, 1998.
- ''The Work to Be Done.'' Rolling Stone, May 28, 1998.
- ''Old Fashioned Gadgets.'' Forbes 266, November 30, 1998.
- ''Last Words for a Century.'' Playboy, January 1999.
- Like Shaking Hands with God : a Conversation about Writing. Kurt Vonnegut & Lee Stringer; moderated by Ross Klavan. 1999.
- Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction. (1999).
- God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian (1999)
- A Man Without a Country (2005)
- Armageddon in Retrospect April 2008
- Look at the Birdie: Short Fiction Paperback – September 7, 2010
- While Mortals Sleep (Vintage Classics) Paperback – 6 Oct 2011
- Kurt Vonnegut: The Last Interview: And Other Conversations (The Last Interview Series) Paperback – December 16, 2011
- We Are What We Pretend To Be: The First and Last Works Hardcover – October 9, 2012
- Sucker's Portfolio: A Collection of Previously Unpublished Writing Paperback – March 12, 2013
- 2BR02B (15 Mar 2013)
- If This Isn't Nice, What Is?: Advice to the Young-The Graduation Speeches Hardcover – April 8, 2014
- And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life Paperback – October 16, 2012 by Charles J. Shields
- Kurt Vonnegut Drawings Hardcover – May 13, 2014 by Nanette Vonnegut
- Kurt Vonnegut: Letters Hardcover – October 30, 2012 edited by Dan Wakefield
- Unstuck in Time: A Journey Through Kurt Vonnegut’s Life and Novels 2012 Greg Sumner
- We Never Danced Cheek to Chee: The Young Kurt Vonnegut in Indianapolis and Beyond, 2010 Hawthorne Publishing, Alford Failey
There are many articles on Kurt -
- Hoosier Legacy
- Whyaduck Productions, Inc Weide & Vonnegut
- Sample text for Slapstick : or, Lonesome no more! / Kurt Vonnegut
- Kurt's own website
- Marek Vit's Kurt Vonnegut Corner
- a brief llife history - kirjasto.sci.fi
- Market Vit" Kurt Vonnegut's Corner - as a "Bug in Amber" Connection of Fiction and Autobiography in the Works of
Kurt Vonnegut Jr
- Kurt's quotes
Other source on Kurt are:
- The Vonnegut Effect by Jerome Klinkowitz (2004)
- Conversations with Kurt Vonnegut by William Rodney Allen (1988)
- Kurt Vonnegut by J. Klinkowitz (1982)
- Kurt Vonnegut Jr. by Peter J. Reed (1972)
- Reed, Peter J. The Short Fiction of Kurt Vonnegut.London: Greenwood Press, 1997
- Kurt Vonnegut: Fantasist of Fire and Ice by David Goldsmith (1972)
- The Vonnegut Statement, ed. by Jerome Klinkowitz and John Somer (1973)
- Kurt Vonnegut Jr. by Stanley Schatt (1976)
- Kurt Vonnegut by James Lundqvist (1977)
- The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction by John Clute and Peter Nicholls (1993)
- Hume, Kathryn. "Kurt Vonnegut and the Myths and Symbols of Meaning". Critical Essays on Kurt Vonnegut. Ed. Robert Merrill. Boston: G.K. Hall & Co, 1990. 201-215.
- Morse, D., Kurt Vonnegut (1991; repr. 1992)
- Understanding Kurt Vonnegut by William R. Allen
- The Vonnegut Chronicles: Interviews and Essays edited by Reed and Leeds (Westport, CT:
Greenwood Press, 1996). Mantell, Harold, producer and director.
- Kurt Vonnegut: A Self-Portrait Princeton, N.J.: Films for the Humanities, 1976
- Leeds, Marc. The Vonnegut Encyclopedia: an authorized compendium. London: Greenwood Press, 1995.