Vonnegut Trivia – Week of May 20, 2018

This week’s question is from Bluebeard, published in 1987.

Q: What is the name of the painting in the potato barn revealed to Circe Berman at the end of the novel?

a) Windsor Blue Number Seventeen

b) Now It’s The Women’s Turn

c) The Unforeseen Wilderness

d) Bluebeard

Check back next week for the answer.  The correct response to last week’s question was A – Kurt’s mother tried to earn money writing fiction during the Great Depression.

For more, here’s a 1999 episode of Bookworm, hosted by Michael Silverblatt.  Recorded after the release of Bogambo Snuff Box, Vonnegut discusses his early short fiction.

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of May 13, 2018

For Mother’s Day, here’s a question about Edith Sophia Lieber Vonnegut, Kurt’s mother.

Q: During the Great Depression, Kurt’s mother Edith tried to earn money through which creative endeavor?

a) Fiction writing

b) Landscape Painting

c) Portrait Painting

d) Playing cello in the Indianapolis orchestra

Check back next week for the answer.  The correct response to our last question is A – The Holiday Inn is the setting for a pivotal scene in Breakfast of Champions.

Here’s a rare of clip of Kurt discussing his artwork in an October 2000 interview with Donald Friedman.

Readers interested in Vonnegut’s art should pick up a copy of Kurt Vonnegut Drawings, which featured contributions from Vonnegut scholar Peter Reed and Kurt’s daughter, Nanette.

Kurt Vonnegut Drawings

 

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of April 29, 2018

This week’s question is from Breakfast of Champions, published in 1973.

Q: A pivotal scene in Breakfast of Champions is set in the lounge of which famous hotel chain?

a) Holiday Inn

b) Howard Johnson

c) Best Western

d) The Hilton

Check back next week for the answer.  The correct response to our question from two weeks ago was D- Bruce Willis played Dwayne Hoover in the film adaptation of Breakfast of Champions.

For more, here’s a 2006 interview with Kurt Vonnegut on the public radio program Bookworm, hosted by the great Michael Silverblatt.

 

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of April 15, 2018

This week’s question is from the world of film:

Q: In the 1999 film version of Breakfast of Champions, which actor plays Dwayne Hoover?

a) Nick Nolte

b) Albert Finney

c) Jerry Lewis

d) Bruce Willis

Check back next week for the answer (or watch the video clip below).  The correct response to last week’s question was B – Helga Noth was Howard W. Campbell’s wife.

If you’ve never seen the film version of Breakfast of Champions, it is available in full, for free, on YouTube.   Be warned: in an interview included with the audiobook of the novel, Vonnegut and his longtime friend Donald Farber described the movie as “painful to watch.”

Here’s a clip of the trailer.

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of April 8, 2018

This week’s question is from Mother Night, published in 1961, the novel Vonnegut famously deemed “the only story of mine whose moral I know …We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be …”

Q: What was the name of Howard W. Campbell’s German wife?

a) Eva Noth

b) Helga Noth

c) Resi Noth

d) Wanda Noth

Check back next week for the correct answer.

For more, here’s a 1997 interview featuring writers Bruce Jay Friedman, Dan Wakefield, and Kurt Vonnegut with host Charlie Rose discussing film adaptations of their work.

 

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of March 25, 2018

On this Palm Sunday, our question of the week comes from Vonnegut’s 1981 “autobiographical collage,” Palm Sunday.

Q: Palm Sunday includes Vonnegut’s update, in script format, of which classic work of literature?

a) Moby Dick

b) Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

c) Romeo and Juliet

d) A Christmas Carol   

Check back next week for the answer.  The correct response to last week’s question was D – Winston Niles Rumfoord’s dog’s name was Kazak.

For more, here’s a clip of actor Benedict Cumberbatch reading a letter from Kurt Vonnegut to the headmaster of a school who had burned copies of  Vonnegut’s books.

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of March 18, 2018

This week’s question is from The Sirens of Titan, first published in 1959.

What is the name of Winston Niles Rumfoord’s dog?

a) Duke

b) Malachi

c) Beatrice

d) Kazak

Here’s a clue: A dog by the same name also appears in Breakfast of Champions and Galapagos.

The answer to last week’s question was A – Wanda June was hit by an ice cream truck.

If you missed the recent interview with Professor Kevin Brown on minor characters’ narratives in Slaughterhouse-House Five, you can read it here:

Harmful Untruths – An Interview with Kevin Brown

For more, check out this strange clip featuring Vonnegut,  his wife Jill Krementz, and author Gore Vidal.

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of March 11, 2018

This week’s question visits the theater:

In Kurt Vonnegut’s play, Happy Birthday, Wanda June, we meet Wanda June in the hereafter.  How was Wanda June killed?

a) Hit by an ice cream truck

b) Struck by a random bullet fired out a window

c) Killed during the bombing of Dresden

d) Poisoned by swallowing Drano

Check back next week for the answer.  The correct response to last week’s question was B– Edgar Derby, in Slaughterhouse-Five, was executed for stealing a teapot in the ruins of Dresden.

Here’s a clip from the film version of Happy Birthday, Wanda June.  Vonnegut himself disliked the film.

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of March 4, 2018

This week’s question is from Slaughterhouse-Five:

Which character was executed for stealing a teapot in the ruins of Dresden?

a) Paul Lazzaro

b) Edgar Derby

c) Joe Crone

d) Bernard B. O’Hare

Check back next week for the answer.  The correct response to last week’ s question was B- Homelessness, the topic for which Lee Stringer was known.  A conversation between Stringer and Vonnegut is featured in the book  Like Shaking Hands with God, published in 1999 by Seven Stories Press.

For more on Slaughterhouse-Five and the significance of its minor characters, see the recent interview with Dr. Kevin Brown of Lee University.

Harmful Untruths – An Interview with Kevin Brown

Finally, here’s a  lecture by Charles Shields, author of the 2012 Vonnegut biography And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut, A Life

Harmful Untruths – An Interview with Kevin Brown

One of Kurt Vonnegut’s most enduring phrases is foma, harmless untruths that can make life easier. Yet Vonnegut also explored the opposite—harmful untruths, lies people believe which create havoc for individuals and society. Professor Kevin Brown, in an essay titled “No All Untruths are Harmless: Minor Characters’ Narratives in Slaughterhouse-Five,” examined how Vonnegut brought these harmful untruths to life in his classic novel.  Brown presented the essay to the Kurt Vonnegut Society at the American Literature Association conference in 2017.

Brown shared his thoughts with The Daily Vonnegut.

Q: There are two dominant critical interpretations of Billy Pilgrim’s creation of Tralfamadore in Slaughterhouse-Five. One sees it as a coping mechanism, the other as a means of escape. Which interpretation do you argue in your essay?  

A: I argue that Billy’s creation of Tralfamadore is a means of escape, that he is unable to cope with what he saw in Dresden and the emptiness of his life otherwise. I can understand how other critics view Tralfamadore as a creative and productive reaction for Billy, I just don’t see enough evidence in the novel that Billy ever copes with what he has experienced. His acceptance of the Tralfamadorian philosophy of fatalism (or quietism, as some say) seems to go against everything else Vonnegut seems to be doing in this novel and in his other works.

For the complete interview, click below:

Harmful Untruths – An Interview with Kevin Brown

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of February 25, 2018

Here’s this week’s question:

In 1999, Seven Stories Press published Like Shaking Hands with God, a conversation about writing between Kurt Vonnegut and Lee Stringer.

What subject was Lee Stringer known for writing about?

a) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

b) Homelessness

c) Civil Disobedience

c) Military intervention in Central America

Check back next week for the correct response.  The answer to last week’s question was C – Vonnegut’s essay “Teaching the Unteachable” was about learning to write well.

Here’s a 1999 clip from a commencement address delivered to Agnes Scott College in Georgia.  The text from the speech appeared in 2014 in If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?, a collection of graduation speeches published by Seven Stories Press.

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of February 18, 2018

Here’s another question from Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons:

In the essay “Teaching the Unteachable,” what subject does Vonnegut consider unteachable?

a) How to be happy

b) How to be a good spouse

c) How to write well

d) How to survive being a POW

Check back next week for the answer.  The correct response to last week’s question was A- The 1972 Republican Convention, which Vonnegut described as “Disneyland under martial law.”

Need help navigating the ups and downs of online life?  Jaya Saxena, on Electric Lit, offers “What Kurt Vonnegut Can Teach Us About Coping With the Internet.”

Thanks to Jim O’Loughlin for the sending the link to Electric Lit.  Check out this interview with Jim about new fiction inspired by Vonnegut’s work.

Jim O’Loughlin – The World of Kurt Vonnegut

O’Loughlin’s Vonnegut-inspired story, “I Need a Miracle,” is available here.

Finally, for more Vonnegut, here’s a 2005 appearance on CSPAN-2’s Book TV.

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of February 11, 2018

Here’s another question from Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons:

In the essay “In a Manner That Must Shame God Himself,” first published in Harper’s Magazine, Vonnegut described which event as “Disneyland under martial law?”

a) The 1972 Republican Convention

b)  The 1968 Democratic Convention

c) The 1974 Super Bowl

d) The film set for the movie of Slaughterhouse-Five

Check back next week for the correct response.  The answer to last week’s question was A – The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was the subject of the essay, “Yes, We Have No Nirvanas.”

The essay “In a Manner That Must Shame God Himself” was referenced this week by Eric Ortiz in a column for the website Truthdig.com. Ortiz describes Vonnegut as a “master or irony.”  The essay is available here:    A County without a Heart

In the following clip, from an interview with Charlie Rose, Vonnegut discusses the film version of Mother Night.

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of February 4, 2018

This week’s question is from Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons:

In the essay “Yes, We have No Nirvanas,” originally published in Esquire, Vonnegut writes about which real-life figure?

a) Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

b) Timothy Leary

c) Wavy Gravy

d) Madame Blavatsky

Check back next week for the answer.  The correct response to last week’s question was B- Jailbird, which begins:   “Yes–Kilgore Trout is back again.  He could not make it on the outside.  That is no disgrace.  A lot of good people can’t make it on the outside.”

For more on Vonnegut, here’s a short interview from 1979 featuring Vonnegut, his daughter Edith, and TV Personality Gene Shalit.  Among the topics discussed is the off-Broadway musical adaptation of God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater.

Three Minutes with Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of January 28, 2018

Here’s another opening line from the work of Kurt Vonnegut:

Q: Which Vonnegut novel begins: “Yes–Kilgore Trout is back again.  He could not make it on the outside.  That is no disgrace.  A lot of good people can’t make it on the outside.”

a) Breakfast of Champions

b) Jailbird

c) Bluebeard

d) Timequake

Check back next week for the correct response.  The answer to last week’s question is A- The Sirens of Titan, which begins, “Everyone now knows how to find the meaning of life within himself.” 

For more on Vonnegut, here’s a review from The Times Literary Supplement on the recently published Kurt Vonnegut Complete Stories.

So It Went

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of January 21, 2018

For this week’s question, here’s another opening line from a Vonnegut novel.

Q: Which novel begins with the sentence: ‘Everyone now knows how to find the meaning of life within himself.”   

a) The Sirens of Titan

b) Cat’s Cradle

C) Hocus Pocus

D) Timequake

Check back next week for the correct response.  The answer to the January 7th question was B–Breakfast of Champions ends with the single word, “Etc.”

For more Vonnegut, here’s a 1989 interview featuring Kurt Vonnegut on The Dick Cavett Show.  Vonnegut discusses the then-current humanitarian crisis in Mozambique.

 

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of January 7, 2018

For this week’s question, we look at the ending line of a classic Vonnegut novel.

Q: Which novel ends with the abbreviation for “et cetera?”

a) Mother Night

b) Breakfast of Champions

C) Bluebeard

d) Hocus Pocus   

Check back next week for the correct response.  The answer to last week’s question was D – Deadeye Dick, which begins with the sentence:   To the as-yet unborn, to all innocent wisps of undifferentiated nothingness: watch out for life. 

Fore more Vonnegut, here’s the classic cameo from Rodney Dangerfield’s Back to School.  The actor playing Dangerfield’s son, Keith  Gordon, would later direct the 1996 adaptation of Mother Night.

Vonnegut scholar Lawrence Broer on the evolution of Kilgore Trout

In a 2017 interview with The Daily Vonnegut, Professor Lawrence Broer discussed his 2011 book Vonnegut & Hemingway – Writers at War.  In the following excerpt, not included in last year’s interview, Broer discusses the evolution of Vonnegut’s most famous character, Kilgore Trout:

Q: How does the role of Vonnegut’s most famous character, Kilgore Trout, evolve from the early work to Trout’s final appearance in Timequake? 

A: Clearly Trout is Vonnegut’s most complex and intriguing fictional persona. His early appearance in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater is to me ambiguous, neither wholly positive nor negative. On the one hand Trout’s condemnation of corporate greed and cruelty is vintage Vonnegut. Serving as advisor to Eliot’s father in preparation for Eliot’s sanity hearing, Trout argues the importance of valuing people without wealth or influence, eschewing the nonsensical notion that people are poor for the lack of trying. He praises Eliot’s devotion to volunteer firemen for the exemplary unselfishness that Eliot wants to emulate. On the other hand Trout gets a fifty thousand dollar consultant fee, and I find his speech about Eliot’s concept of “uncritical love” rhetorically pompous in contrast to Eliot’s personal and immediate suffering.

Vonnegut’s more ambitious plans for Trout as his own more bitter and cynical Trout-self become clear in Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions where Trout is described as that “unhappy failure” who represents all the artists who searched for truth and beauty without finding “doodly-squat!” We learn in Breakfast that Trout’s idea of the purpose of human life and, presumably, of his own artistic mission has been to be the eyes and ears and conscience of God, but that years of neglect and a growing sense of a life not worth living have made him temperamentally unfit for the task. He no longer harbors ideas about how things should be on earth, pouring his pessimism into books so demoralizing they drive readers like Dwayne Hoover crazy. Trout’s science fiction novel Now It Can Be Told convinces Dwayne people are nothing more than machines incapable of thinking, feeling, or making choices, so as machines he might as well treat them as inhumanely as he pleases. He subsequently embarks on a rampage that sends eleven people to the hospital.

What I had not sufficiently noticed before you got me re-reading was that the books by Trout that Eliot Rosewater introduces Billy Pilgrim to in Slaughterhouse-Five are all similarly cynical and despairing. Billy doesn’t just become Trout’s biggest fan, novels interwoven throughout Slaughterhouse-Five like Maniacs in the Fourth Dimension and The Gospel from Outer Space, about time travel and visitors from outer space shaped like Tralfamadorians (“by the way”) appear to inspire Billy’s lunatic fantasy of Tralfamadore where he comes to believe there is no such thing as free will and therefore no ability to influence his own life. It’s understanding this, I think, that when Billy’ asks his daughter who she would like to kill, she responds, “That wrier Kilgore Trout.”

While Trout appears cynical and even mean spirited in Slaughterhouse-Five, his appearance in Galapagos is outright sinister. Presaged in Breakfast of Champions, where we’re told Trout’s pessimism “destroyed his three marriages, and drove Leo, his son, away from home,” the life hating Trout of Galapagos encourages his son to kill himself, calling Leo’s curiosity about life foolish. When Leo says he wants more time to complete his research into the human mind and heart and into dehumanizing mechanistic structures, Trout tells him he is nothing better than a machine himself, that the more he learns about people, the more disgusted he will become. Yet in Timequake, Trout undergoes the most startling character transformation in Vonnegut’s work. While the novel opens with a list of the living dead, which once would have included “the cracked Messiah” Trout as Vonnegut calls him in Slaughterhouse-Five, and the author himself, it is the spirit of Jesus Christ and the Sermon on the Mount that comes to the fore, Trout as artist-shaman, offering a prayer for mercy and respect: “For Christ’s sake, let’s help more of our frightened people get through this thing, whatever it is.”

Vonnegut’s long suffering, most volatile literary figure finds himself the sole person not only to understand the destructive nature of “timequakes”—a psychic phenomenon that causes people to relive past experiences on “auto-pilot,” will-less and destined to make the same mistakes over again—but to oppose it in dramatic fashion by harnessing the power of language to battle timequake will-lessness and despair. He explains to those afflicted with will-lessness, “You were sick, but now you’re well and there’s work to do.” We read that poisoned with “Post Time Quake” apathy, Hemingway and Vonnegut’s mother may have killed themselves, “but not Kilgore Trout.” Vonnegut declares, “His “indestructible self-respect is what I loved most about Kilgore Trout.”

Trout is taken to the writer’s retreat at Xanadu where he is given the Ernest Hemingway suite, in which he lives out his final days as a healer battling the effect of PTA—post timequake inertia. Notably it is on Hemingway’s bed that Trout at first continues writing stories that threaten to infect his readers with his own disillusionment causing them to believe they can no more feel or reason than grandfather clocks. It’s Trout’s role as an irresponsible author that explains Vonnegut’s view of Hemingway as a writer like himself who has harmed readers with his own pessimistic belief that human beings are no better than robots in a meaningless world, fostering apathy that in turn fosters aggression. We recall for instance Jake Barnes’ cynicism as the close of The Sun Also Rises, Frederic Henry’s feelings of futility at the end of A Farewell to Arms, and Howard Campbell’s despairing realization in Mother Night that his Nazi broadcasts have given “shape and direction” to his listeners, turning them into homicidal monsters. Vonnegut sees how natural it would be for people to behave abominably after reading about people such a Frederic Henry or Dwayne Hoover in books. But with a nod to Rabo Karabekian’s awareness-making art in Bluebeard, Trout’s literary metamorphosis re-directs him to write stories combing traditional humanism with the openness and philosophical pluralism of Pablo Picasso’s paintings in the Museum of Modern Art. He expresses his contempt for “cruel inventions,” “irresistible forces in nature” and fictions with absolute moral codes, closed scripts that privilege masculine authority and contain romantic plots such as Vonnegut decries in A Farewell To Arms. If Vonnegut and Trout are still susceptible to the potentially fatal pull of PTA it is their hopeful voice inspired by their faith in the inviolability of human awareness the prevails in Timequake. 

Evoking the image of Trout in Slaughterhouse-Five as a “cracked Messiah, “and Trout’s existence as a fragment of Vonnegut’s own dived psyche, Vonnegut makes good on his promise in Breakfast of Champions to make Trout whole. “I have broken your mind to pieces,” he tells Trout. “I want to make it whole. I want you to feel a wholeness and inner harmony such as I have never allowed you to feel before.”

For more, read the entire 2017 interview with Broer:

Vonnegut and Hemingway – An Interview with Lawrence Broer

Vonnegut Trivia – January 1, 2018

Happy New Year from The Daily Vonnegut.  Thanks to all of those who visited the site in 2017.  We kick off this year’s trivia with the opening line from a Vonnegut novel.

Which novel begins with the following sentence: To the as-yet unborn, to all innocent wisps of undifferentiated nothingness: watch out for life. 

a) Slapstick

b) Jailbird

c) Bluebeard

d) Deadeye Dick  

Check back next week for the correct response.  The answer to last week’s question is B – God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, which begins with the sentence:  “A sum of money is a leading character in this tale about people, just as a sum of honey might properly be a leading character in a tale about bees.”

For more, visit our Vonnegut Video of the Month.

Vonnegut Trivia: Week of December 24, 2017

Happy Holidays from The Daily Vonnegut.  Thanks to everyone who has visited the site in 2017.  Here’s this week’s question:

Which Vonnegut novel begins with the following sentence:  “A sum of money is a leading character in this tale about people, just as a sum of honey might properly be a leading character in a tale about bees.”

a) The Sirens of Titan

b) God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

c) Bluebeard

d) Hocus Pocus

Check back next week for the correct response.   The answer to last week’s question was A – The Beatles. Vonnegut described the Fab Four as artists who made people “appreciate being alive at least a little bit.”

Interested in staying in a house built by Kurt’s grandfather, Clemens Vonnegut Jr.?  The summer rates are fit for a Rosewater, but the house features a view of Lake Maxinkuckee.  For more, visit www.Vonneguthouse.com.

 

Vonnegut Trivia: Week of December 17, 2017

This week’s question is from Timequake, Vonnegut’s last novel, published in 1997.

At the beginning of Timequake, Vonnegut writes that “a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit.”  Who does Vonnegut identify as an artist(s) who pulled it off?

a) The Beatles

b) Laurel and Hardy

c) Bob and Ray

d) Benny Goodman

Check back next week for the correct response.  The answer to last week’s question was C.  San Lorenzo is the small island nation on which much of Cat’s Cradle is set.

Still not done with your holiday shopping for the Vonnegut fan in your life?  Visit Vonnegut.com for gift ideas.

www.Vonnegut.com

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of December 10, 2017

This week’s question is from Cat’s Cradle, first published in 1963.

What is the name of the small island nation on which much of the novel is set?

a) San Marcos

b) St. Sebastian

c) San Lorenzo

d) San Simeon

Check back next week for the correct response.  The answer to last week’s question was Utopia-14, the alternative title under which Player Piano was once published.

In Vonnegut news, Variety has reported that a series based on Slaughterhouse-Five is now in development.  For more, read here.

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of December 3, 2017

For this week’s question we visit Kurt Vonnegut’s debut novel, Player Piano.

Q:  Player Piano was also published under a different title.  What was it?

a) Utopia-14

b) The Revenge of the Machines

c) Illium 2000

d) Machine Head

We’ll be back next week with the correct response.  The answer to our last question is B.  In Hocus Pocus, Jack Patton invented an electric chair for rats.

Visitors or residents of Indianapolis are certain to have noticed the 38-feet painting of Vonnegut on the side of a building.  Now, Indianapolis is featuring a “Tiny Vonnegut” exhibit.  For more, see the article below at the Indy Star.

Tiny Vonnegut

 

 

 

 

The Many Vonneguts – An Interview with Zachary Perdieu

In 2016, Zachary Perdieu, co-Vice President of the Kurt Vonnegut Society, delivered a paper at the American Literature Association’s annual conference titled “’That was I. That was me.’ The Many Vonneguts and Their Relationship with Fiction.” In the following interview, Perdieu shares his thoughts on “the many Vonneguts” and how Vonnegut’s fiction may have predicted his own death.

Q: Vonnegut is well-known for inserting himself into his fiction, perhaps most prominently in Breakfast of Champions. In your research you found evidence of this approach in a much earlier work, Cat’s Cradle. What did you find?

A: In Jerome Klinkowitz’s book Vonnegut In Fact (1998), Klinkowitz explains that Vonnegut attempted to insert his surname, at the very least, into the narrative of Cat’s Cradle (1963). Funnily enough, Vonnegut had already blatantly placed a “Kurt Vonnegut” character in Mother Night that came out two years before Cat’s Cradle, but this character was presented as the editor of Howard W. Campbell Jr.’s memoir manuscript. This manuscript was fictional, of course, so the “editor” character Vonnegut presented was also a fictional projection of the author, himself. Apparently, this particular presentation of a Vonnegut-character was accepted by editors, but the idea of the author’s last name entering Cat’s Cradle two years later was viewed as literary malpractice, as Klinkowitz goes on to write, “Editors talked Vonnegut out of the idea as being too radical” when Vonnegut made this attempt in Cat’s Cradle because it would be seen as “violating the aesthetic distance that critics assume must exist between reality and the fictive” (111).

So Vonnegut was “present” as an editor-character in Mother Night in 1961, and then showed up again in 1969 in Chapter 1 of Slaughterhouse-Five and a few other places in the book. As you mentioned, Vonnegut as an author/character shows up most prominently in Breakfast of Champions in 1973, where the character is interacting and manipulating with the fictional universe around him. Simply put, in the book immediately preceding Cat’s Cradle and the two that followed in publication order, representations of Vonnegut as a character are all over the place. Despite this, his editors had censored this stylistic inclination out of Cat’s Cradle.

I was at Indiana University’s Lilly Library doing research in the Vonnegut archive for my master’s thesis, and on my final day I decided to look for evidence of Klinkowitz’s claim that Vonnegut had attempted to place himself in the work in an early draft of Cat’s Cradle that was present in the archive.

Read the entire interview here.

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of November 5, 2017

This week’s question will delve into Bokononism as we feature Vonnegut vocabulary.

Q:   What is a granfalloon?

a) harmless lies

b) a uniform worn by a Bokononist minister

c) a proud and meaningless association of human beings

d) a Bokononist marriage ceremony

Check back next week for the answer.  The correct response to last week’s question was #1 – Colliers was the first magazine to publish Vonnegut’s fiction.  “Report on the Barnhouse Effect” appeared in the magazine in 1950.

For more on the recently published Kurt Vonnegut Complete Stories, check out The New York Times review by Jess Walter.

“How Kurt Vonnegut Found His Voice”

 

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of October 29, 2017

After a two-week hiatus, we’re back with more trivia.  This week’s question focuses on Vonnegut’s short fiction–all of which is now available in Kurt Vonnegut Complete Stories, published last month by Seven Stories Press.

Q: “Report on the Barnhouse Effect” was Vonnegut’s first published story.  In which magazine did it appear?

  1. Colliers
  2. Saturday Evening Post
  3. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
  4. Esquire

Check in next week for the correct answer.  The answer to our last question was #2 – The Foster Portfolio.

For more on Vonnegut and his influence, see our recent essay by Zachary Perdieu, “What I Pretended to Be.”

“What I Pretended to Be” by Zachary Perdieu

What I Pretended to Be – by Zachary Perdieu

Zachary Perdieu is co-Vice President of the Kurt Vonnegut essay.  In the following essay, he shares how Vonnegut’s work helped shape his future academic career.  

What I Pretended to Be

Ask any friend of mine to provide a few details about me, and my affinity for Kurt Vonnegut would never slip past the third listed item. Despite this, I was late to the clambake, so to speak, relative to many other Vonnegut fans and scholars. A common story among Vonnegut fans involves youthfully stumbling upon one of the author’s novels on a parent’s or older sibling’s bookshelf, or perhaps being assigned “Harrison Bergeron” in high school, and, from that young age, the fan carried Vonnegut into adulthood. My story isn’t so different, I suppose, but I would venture to paint it as a bit more dramatic.

Continue reading:

What I Pretended to Be by Zachary Perdieu

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of October 8, 2017

For this week’s question, we stick with short fiction.  Kurt Vonnegut Complete Stories is now available at local bookstores.

Q: In which early Vonnegut story does a rich man pretend to be poor so he can pursue his passion for playing roadhouse piano under the guise of needing the money?

  1. Who Am I This Time?
  2. The Foster Portfolio
  3. Miss Temptation
  4. Ambitious Sophomore

Check back next week for the answer.  The correct response to last week’s question was #4.  “Welcome to the Monkey House” was first published in Playboy.

For more, check out the new Vonnegut Video of the Month–a 2006 interview in which Kurt discusses censorship in America.

Vonnegut Video of the Month – Kurt Vonnegut on Censorship

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of October 1, 2017

Earlier this week Playboy founder Hugh Hefner died.  Which Kurt Vonnegut story was first published in Playboy?

  1. Harrison Bergeron
  2. The Big Space Fuck
  3. Miss Temptation
  4. Welcome to the Monkey House

Check back next week for the correct response.   The answer to last week’s question was #3.  The subtitle of Slapstick is Lonesome No More!

Congratulations to David Beveridge, the winner of our recent contest.  David won a copy of Kurt Vonnegut Complete Stories.

“New” Vonnegut story available at The Nation

While we certainly encourage everyone to purchase a copy of Kurt Vonnegut Complete Stories, readers can find one of the newly discovered stories online at The Nation:

“Requiem for Zeitgeist”

https://www.thenation.com/article/requiem-for-zeitgeist/

Today is the final day to enter to win a copy of Kurt Vonnegut Complete Stories.  Sign up to follow The Daily Vonnegut or send an email to thedailyvonnegut@gmail.com.  One entrant, picked at random, will win a copy of the book.

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of September 24, 2017

This week’s question is from Slapstick, first published in 1976.

What is the subtitle found on the title page of the novel Slapstick?

  1. The Children’s Crusade
  2. So it Goes
  3. Lonesome No More!
  4. Dammit! You’ve Got to Be Kind!

For the correct answer, visit the following Kickstarter page to help fund a new mental health initiative from the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library.  As most Vonnnegut fans know, Kurt suffered from depression, and his mother committed suicide.  Characters experiencing the ravages of mental illness appear frequently in his fiction.  Those able to make a donation to support this worthy program can do so at the link below, which includes a short video about the program:

 

The answer to last week’s question was #3–readers of Cat’s Cradle know that foma are harmless lies.

Our contest to win a copy of Kurt Vonnegut Complete Stories remains open until October First.    Sign up to follow The Daily Vonnegut or send us an email at thedailyvonnegut@gmail.com to be entered to win.

 

“New” Vonnegut story available in The Atlantic

The Atlantic Monthly has published a newly discovered Vonnegut story, “The Drone King,” in this month’s edition.   You can read the story at the following link:

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/10/kurt-vonnegut-the-drone-king/537870/ 

The story was discovered by writer Dan Wakefield and Vonnegut scholar Jerome Klinkowitz as they were reading through Vonnegut’s papers at the Lilly Library at Indiana University while working on Vonnegut’s Complete Stories, soon to be published by Seven Stories Press.  According to Klinkowitz, “The Drone King” was written in the early 1950’s, at the beginning of Vonnegut’s career.

To celebrate the publication of Kurt Vonnegut Complete Stories, The Daily Vonnegut is giving away a free copy of the book.  Sign up to follow The Daily Vonnegut between September 20 and October 1 and you’ll be entered to win.  We’ll pick one person at random to receive the free copy of Kurt Vonnegut Complete Stories.  You can also enter by sending an email to thedailyvonnegut@gmail.com.

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of September 17, 2017

This week’s question is from Cat’s Cradle, one of Vonnegut’s best, first published in 1963.

What are foma?

  1. Plant life found only on Trafalmadore
  2. Pain pills
  3. Harmless lies
  4. Ancient wisdoms

Check back next week for the correct response.  The answer to last week’s question was #1 –  Harry LaSabre’s secret was that he liked to wear women’s clothing.

Don’t forget: On September 26th Seven Stories Press will release Vonnegut’s Complete Stories, featuring several previously unpublished works.   We’ll have more on the Complete Stories later this week.

 

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of September 10, 2017

This week’s question is from Breakfast of Champions:

Q: Harry LeSabre, the sales manager at Dwayne Hoover’s Exit Eleven Pontiac Village, has a secret.  What is it?

  1. He likes to wear women’s clothing
  2. He was a German spy during World War II
  3. He’s a robot
  4. He’s having an affair with Dwayne’s wife

Check back next week for the answer.  The correct response to last week’s question was Eugene Debs.  The narrator of Hocus Pocus is Eugene Debs Hartke, named after the famed Indianapolis labor leader and Socialist Party presidential candidate, Eugene Victor Debs.   Vonnegut often referred to this famous Debs quote:

“While there is a lower class, I am in it.  While there is a criminal element, I am of it.  While there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

 

 

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of September 3, 2017

In recognition of Labor Day, this week’s question comes from Hocus Pocus, Vonnegut’s penultimate novel, published in 1990.

The protagonist and narrator of Hocus Pocus is named after which prominent labor organizer:

  1. Samuel Gompers
  2. Eugene Debs
  3. Big Bill Haywood
  4. Daniel McCone

Check back next week for the answer.  The correct response to last week’s question was Laurel and Hardy.

Enjoy your Labor Day holiday.

 

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of August 27, 2017

For this week’s question, we visit Slapstick, first published in 1976.

The novel Slapstick is dedicated to which famous comedy team?

  1. Laurel and Hardy
  2. Abbot and Costello
  3. Bob and Ray
  4. Martin and Lewis

Check back next week for the answer.  The correct response to last week’s question was #2 – The Ghost Shirt Society.  This was the name taken by the rebellious group hoping to overthrow “the machines.”

For more on the work of Kurt Vonnegut, check out this essay by Josh Privett.

Kurt Vonnegut, The Lapsed Secularist

 

 

 

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of August 20, 2017

This week’s question is from Vonnegut’s debut novel, Player Piano:

What is the name of the group of workers and engineers who strike out against the machines in order to restore a sense of worth to people’s lives?

  1. The Reeks and Wrecks
  2. The Ghost Shirt Society
  3. The Proteus Rebellion
  4. The Ghost Dance Uprising

Check back next week for the answer.  The correct response to our last question is Midland City.  Dwayne Hoover owned a Pontiac dealership in this fictional Midwestern town, a frequent setting in Vonnegut’s work.

For more on the life and work of Kurt Vonnegut, see our interview with Ginger Strand, author of The Brothers Vonnegut.

Interview with Ginger Strand – The Brothers Vonnegut

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of August 6, 2017

Once again, our question comes from Breakfast of Champions:

In which Midwest city does Dwayne Hoover own a Pontiac dealership?

  1. Chicago
  2. Detroit
  3. Cleveland
  4. Midland City

The answer to last week’s question: Phoebe Hurty, to whom Breakfast of Champions was dedicated, was a copywriter for the William H. Block company who hired the young Kurt to write ad copy for teenage clothing.   According to Kurt, she taught him “to be impolite in conversation not only about sexual matters, but about American history and famous heroes, about the distribution of wealth, about school, about everything.”

In case you missed it, be sure to check out our recent interview with Lawrence R. Broer.

Vonnegut and Hemingway – Writers at War

 

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of July 23, 2017

This week’s question is from Vonnegut’s 1973 novel, Breakfast of Champions.

Breakfast of Champions is dedicated to Phoebe Hurty.  What role did she play in Vonnegut’s life?

The answer to last week’s question is The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest HemingwayFor more on the Vonnegut-Hemingway connection, check out our interview with Professor Lawrence R. Broer.

Vonnegut and Hemingway – Writers at War

 

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of July 16, 2017

For this week’s question, we visit Vonnegut’s 1997 novel, Timequake.

Name the work of fiction by Ernest Hemingway featured in the Prologue of Timequake.

The answer to last week’s question is Kazak.  Kazak is the name of Winston Niles Rumfoord’s dog in The Sirens of Titan.  Vonnegut uses the same name for dog characters in Breakfast of Champions and Galapagos.

For more on the Vonnegut-Hemingway connection, be sure to read our recent interview with Professor Lawrence R. Broer.

Vonnegut and Hemingway – Writers at War

Vonnegut and Hemingway: An Interview with Lawrence R. Broer

Vonnegut & Hemingway: Writers at War – An Interview with Lawrence R. Broer  

While a surface reading of each man’s fiction might find little connection between Kurt Vonnegut and Ernest Hemingway beyond the trauma of war, as Lawrence R. Broer shows in Vonnegut & Hemingway: Writers at War (The University of South Carolina Press, 2011) the relationship between the two writers is deep and complex. Broer’s work “maps the striking intersections of biography and artistry” between Vonnegut and Hemingway, exploring the ways in which they blend life and art.

A long-time Vonnegut scholar, Broer’s earlier book, Sanity Plea: Schizophrenia in the Novels of Kurt Vonnegut, offered a broad psychoanalytic study of the author’s work, and was called by the Journal of Popular Culture “…among the very best in Vonnegut studies.”

Broer shared his thoughts with The Daily Vonnegut.

Q: In Vonnegut & Hemingway: Writers at War, you describe Hemingway as the “secret sharer” of Vonnegut’s literary imagination. How so?

A: I, of course, allude to Joseph Conrad’s wonderful novella, “The Secret Sharer,” about two sea Captains who represent opposing sides of the same individual, mankind’s impulse to cruelty and violence versus a capacity for self-awareness, control, and cooperation. Like Conrad, like Einstein and Freud, Vonnegut understood that unless human beings learn to understand and control their destructive tendencies, civilization is doomed. Vonnegut viewed Hemingway’s love of blood sports, killing big animals for pleasure, in this context. But just as in Conrad’s story where the protagonist’s bestial self is unconscious, I suspect Vonnegut was never fully aware of the deeper, more personal reason for his compulsive portrayal of Hemingway as his “bête noir,” a fatalistic self for whom suicide was forecast from an early age, and to which Vonnegut repeatedly refers in and out of his fiction, e.g., “I had recently turned seventy-three. My mother made it to seventy-two. Hemingway almost made it to sixty-two” (Timequake). I think Vonnegut believed that resisting the pull of his defeatist self was necessary not only to fulfilling his role as canary-bird-in-the-coal mine, but to life itself. As I wrote in Vonnegut and Hemingway: Writers at War, Hemingway joins Billy Pilgrim, Kilgore Trout, and Kurt Vonnegut Sr. as the author’s chief scapegoats, carrying his burden of trauma and despair.

Read the complete interview here:

Vonnegut and Hemingway – An Interview with Lawrence R. Broer

 

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of July 2, 2017

For this week’s question, we enter the world of Vonnegut’s short fiction:

What was the name of the Lincoln High School band director who appears in several early stories, including “The Kid Nobody Could Handle,” reprinted in the Welcome to the Monkey House collection?  

The answer to last week’s question is “Report on the Barnhouse Effect,” which was Vonnegut’s first published story.  Collier’s paid $750 for the story.  For Vonnegut, this was the equivalent of two months’ salary at GE.

In September, Seven Stories Press will publish Vonnegut’s Complete Stories, edited by Jerome Klinkowitz and Dan Wakefield, with a Foreword by Dave Eggers.  Organized thematically, the book features 97 stories and over 1,000 pages.

https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Stories-Kurt-Vonnegut/dp/1609808088/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1499008926&sr=8-1&keywords=Kurt+Vonnegut+complete+stories

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of June 25, 2017

This week’s question is about Kurt’s early career as a writer of short fiction for popular magazines like Saturday Evening Post and Collier’s, aka “the slicks.”

Which story, featured in the Welcome to the Monkey House collection, was Vonnegut’s first published work of fiction?

The answer to last week’s question was Adolf Hitler.  Otto Waltz befriended the future dictator during his days as a student painter in Europe.

For more Vonnegut, check out this interview with Salon from October, 1990.

http://www.salon.com/1999/10/08/vonnegut_interview/

 

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of June 18, 2017

For this Father’s Day edition of Vonnegut Trivia, we visit Deadeye Dick, and explore the tragic ineptitude of Rudy’s father, the would-be painter Otto Waltz.

Which historical figure did Otto Waltz befriend during his time in Vienna?

The correct response to last week’s question is The Sermon on the Mount.

Be sure to check out Marc Leeds’s essay, What Would Kurt Vonnegut think of Donald Trump?

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of June 11, 2017

Once again, we visit Jailbird for this week’s question:

Which Biblical passage does Walter F. Starbuck reference in response to Richard Nixon’s question about why Starbuck was so ungrateful to the capitalist system?

Check back next week for the answer.  The correct response to last week’s question was The RAMJAC Corporation.

This month’s Vonnegut Video features an 18-minute interview from 1978 on the Canadian television series 90 Minutes Live.

Vonnegut Video of the Month

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of June 4, 2017

For this week’s trivia, we visit Vonnegut’s 1979 novel Jailbird.

What is the name of the fictional multinational corporation that plays a key role in the events of the novel?

The correct response to last week’s question is C.  Vonnegut served as a scout for the 423rd Regiment.

Be sure to check out the interview from earlier this week featuring writer Benjamin Reed on “Teaching ‘Harrison Bergeron’.”

Teaching Harrison Bergeron – An Interview with Benjamin Reed