Vonnegut's Back

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My love affair with Kurt Vonnegut started (as I'm sure it did for many of you) back in the 10th grade when I first experienced Billy Pilgrim, "unstuck in time." Since Slaughterhouse Five, I've made it a point to check back in with Vonnegut at various points in my life, most recently with A Man Without a Country. He died last year at the age of 84 — as Von would say, so it goes. But now, a posthumous collection of his stories and essays has been published. It's called Armageddon in Retrospect, and it focuses on none other than the experience of war. His son, Mark Vonnegut, wrote an introduction to the book, and he joins us today to talk about his father's writings. How will you remember Vonnegut, and what questions do you have for his son?

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There's a rumor going around Cornell that Kurt Vonnegut used to go to final exams for classes that he wasn't enrolled in, start taking the exam, stand up, rip it up, and scream something like "I can't take it anymore!" and run out of the room.
Is this true?

Sent by Meghan (Ann Arbor, MI) | 2:49 PM | 4-1-2008

I had a drink with Kurt Vonnegut about 15 years ago in Orono, Maine after a speaking engagement of his there. He was meeting Steven King the next morning and asked if any of us present knew him. I relayed a story of having breakfast at Colonial House of Pancakes that summer and seeing Steven King put bacon and toast in his jacket pocket on the way out the door, then pull one out (i'm not sure which) as he got into his vehicle. Kurt really wanted to know where he could get a rubber egg at 11pm in Orono Maine. I always wondered if he did harass Steven King about it the next morning

Sent by Tim Jones | 2:51 PM | 4-1-2008

I can't tell you what it means to me to pick up a new Kurt Vonnegut book.
It took me 111,000 words to do that in a book about his writing, just finished.

Can you say whether Kurt's apparently unfinished novel, 'If God Were Alive Today,' will be published?

And can I recommend your dad's novelization of 'Happy Birthday, Wanda June'? I've asked Don Farber to look for the final section which is missing from Lilly Library, but other than that, it's eminently publishable. Some wonderful wit and characterization in that version, too, that didn't make it into the play. It's called 'Penelope.'

Thanks for your beautiful introduction.

Sent by Gary McMahon | 9:36 PM | 4-1-2008

I never got to meet Kurt Vonnegut. I wanted to give him a hug. And tell him he was a hero.

Sent by Kristian Winston | 11:46 AM | 4-2-2008

Thanks for the really interesting conversation with Mark Vonnegut! For other Vonnegut fans, there is a great memoir of a personal meeting with Kurt Vonnegut on the Open Spaces Magazine website at
http://www.open-spaces.com/article-v9n3-blakeslee.php. It's called "The Man from Slaughterhouse Five: A Remembrance of Kurt Vonnegut."

Sent by Ieva Walker | 12:42 PM | 4-2-2008

One of the things I always liked about Vonnegut was his ability to make the surreal seem logical. The off beat humor always worked for me ,too.

Sent by P Miller | 11:23 PM | 4-2-2008

I have been asked who, living or dead, I would like to have at my dinner party. Kurt Vonnegut was always on the list.
I have spent much of my life living near places where he lived- Ithaca, Cape Cod. never met.

Sent by Mo Siyi | 6:57 PM | 8-9-2008