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.



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

Teaching “Harrison Bergeron” – An Interview with Benjamin Reed

Originally published in 1961 in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, “Harrison Bergeron” is Kurt Vonnegut’s most well-known story.   In The Short Fiction of Kurt Vonnegut, Peter J. Reed describes the story as “vintage Vonnegut …extremely funny while at the same time touching on several serious social issues.” While often read as a satire on forced equality, the story is complex enough to merit interpretations across the political spectrum. Anyone who has not yet read the story can find it in Vonnegut’s collection, Welcome to the Monkey House. It is also available online.

A staple of high school and college anthologies, “Harrison Bergeron” is for many students their “first” Vonnegut. In his 2015 essay “Technologies of Amnesia: Teaching ‘Harrison Bergeron’ to the Millennial Generation” (published in Teaching American Literature: A Journal of Theory and Practice), Benjamin Reed, a writer and lecturer at Texas State University, examines the different interpretations of the story and his experiences teaching it to undergraduates.

Reed shared his thoughts with The Daily Vonnegut.

Q: In your essay you write that “Harrison Bergeron” always resonates with students. Why is that?

A: I think partly it’s their age. Most of my students are underclassmen, between 18 and 20. They’ve just made this tremendous, terrifying leap from a small, knowable world into a cosmos of uncertainty. Even if they don’t know it, they have been developing a personalized and reliable moral and philosophical framework from which they get a kind of pleasure by testing it against challenging stories. It’s one of the many reasons literature—especially fiction—needs to be taught heavily in high school and college. Also, because my young students still carry a residue of their teenage years, they’re very keen to notice unfairness, and the failings of well-intended authority figures, because they still bear fresh marks from the trauma of surviving late childhood in the households of their terribly human parents.

There is also the disquieting terror of seeing a lost child erased from his parents’ memory, which has to click, if only on a preconscious level, with young people who have recently left home for the first time.

For the complete interview, follow the link below:

Teaching “Harrison Bergeron” – An Interview with Benjamin Reed

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of May 28, 2017

To commemorate Memorial Day, this week’s question is about Kurt’s military service during World War II.

What was Vonnegut’s “job” as a soldier in the 423rd Regiment, Second Division?

a) Machine Gunner     b) Chaplain’s Assistant   c) Scout      d) Medic

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

The name of the doomed cruise ship in Galapagos was the Bahia de Darwin.


Vonnegut Trivia – Week of May 14, 2017

This week’s question is in honor of Mother’s Day:

What was Vonnegut’s mother Edith’s maiden name?

The answer to last week’s question: The Parker Brother’s game that predicts the future in the novel Hocus Pocus is named GRIOT.

For more, be sure to check out this interview with noted Vonnegut scholar Jerome Klinkowitz.  Click below to read the full interview:

Interview with Jerome Klinkowitz

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of April 23, 2017

For this week’s question, we visit Vonnegut’s 1987 novel Bluebeard.

In the novel, the character Circe Berman writes Young Adult fiction under what pen name?

The answer to last week’s question: The Statler Brothers song “Class of ’57” is considered by Kurt to be a proper National Anthem for his generation.

For more on Vonnegut’s life and work, check out the essay “Kurt Vonnegut-The Lapsed Secularist” by Josh Privett.  Click here for the full essay:


Vonnegut Trivia – Week of April 16, 2017

This week’s Easter Sunday edition of Vonnegut Trivia comes from Palm Sunday, Vonnegut’s 1981 “autobiographical collage.”

What is the name of the country song by The Statler Brothers that Kurt would like to see “become our national anthem for a little while?”   In Palm Sunday Vonnegut includes the lyrics to the song, and writes that it “could be an anthem for my generation.”

The answer to last week’s question: Dwayne Hoover owned a Pontiac dealership in Midland City.

Interested in Vonnegut “fan fiction?”  Check out this interview with Jim O’loughlin on “The World Of Kurt Vonnegut.”


Vonnegut Trivia – Week of April 9, 2017

This week’s question continues with our theme of occupations.

In Breakfast of Champions, what is Dwayne Hoover’s occupation?

Check back next week for the correct response.  The answer to last week’s question: Billy Pilgrim was an optometrist by trade.

Be sure to check out our interview with Gregory Sumner, author of Unstuck in Time: A Journey Through Kurt Vonnegut’s Life and Novels.  In the interview, Sumner discusses the writing of Vonnegut’s short story, “Welcome to the Monkey House.”  Click here to read the complete interview.

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of April 2, 2017

For this week’s question, we visit Vonnegut’s masterpiece, Slaughterhouse-Five:

What is Billy Pilgrim’s profession?

Check back next week for the answer.  The correct response to last week’s question: Rudy Waltz, the protagonist of Deadeye Dick, was a registered pharmacist.

Be sure to read the recent interview with Ginger Strand, author of The Brothers Vonnegut.   For the complete interview, click here.

The Brothers Vonnegut – An Interview with Ginger Strand

The Brothers Vonnegut, by Ginger Strand, is a fascinating study of Kurt Vonnegut’s career in public relations for General Electric (GE) in the late 1940’s. Yet equally important is the story of Bernard Vonnegut, Kurt’s older brother, an accomplished scientist specializing in weather phenomenon. Author Ginger Strand shared her thoughts with The Daily Vonnegut.   

Q: What inspired you to write this book?

A: Surprisingly, while I liked what I had read, I wasn’t a lifelong Kurt Vonnegut fan. I came to this story via Bernie. I was reading about New York City’s 1950 drought, in which the city cloud seeded the Catskill Mountains in an attempt to fill their reservoirs. That story was fascinating enough, but when I learned that the person who invented the method New York City used was Bernard Vonnegut, brother to Kurt, I got interested. I remembered how Kurt had been caught in the firebombing of Dresden during World War II, and had only survived because he was in a slaughterhouse basement. This lyrical pair of images—one brother hiding underground to avoid fire and death from the sky, the other brother in the air trying to coax water and life from the sky—stuck with me.

For the complete interview, click here.

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of March 26, 2017

For this week’s question, we visit Vonnegut’s 1982 novel Deadeye Dick.

What is the profession of  the novel’s main character, Rudy Waltz?

Check back next week for the answer.   The correct response to last week’s question is Lionel Boyd Johnson, the real name of the prophet Bokonon (Cat’s Cradle.)

For anyone who missed our interview with Susan Farrell on American Fascism and Mother Night, you can read the full interview here.

Later this week we’ll feature an interview with author Ginger Strand about her book, The Brothers Vonnegut, about Kurt and Bernard during their years working for General Electric.

American Fascism and Mother Night – An Interview with Professor Susan Farrell

Kurt Vonnegut’s Mother Night, originally published as a paperback original in 1961, continues to resonate with its times. Professor Susan Farrell, in an essay presented at the American Literature Association Conference in 2016, explored the relationship between the assorted fascists connected to Howard W. Campbell Jr. and several figures from American history.

Professor Farrell shared her thoughts with The Daily Vonnegut.

Q: In “American Fascism and Mother Night,” you draw connections between the characters in the novel and several historical figures from the 1930’s and 1940’s. With the exception of Father Coughlin, these relatively obscure American fascists have faded from historical view. Tell us about your research and how you came to write the essay.

A: I first became interested in writing the essay because I happened to read something about Sufi Abdul Hamid, a religious mystic and political activist who lived in Harlem during the 1930s, and who served as the historical model for Robert Sterling Wilson in the novel. Both men were known as the “Black Fuhrer of Harlem.” I was immediately intrigued. Vonnegut’s character seemed so cartoonish and outlandish that it was hard to believe he had an actual historical counterpart.

To read the complete interview, visit The Daily Vonnegut at the following link:

American Fascism and Mother Night – An Interview with Susan Farrell


Vonnegut Trivia – week of March 19, 2017

For this week’s trivia question, we visit Vonnegut’s 1963 classic, Cat’s Cradle.

What is the real name of the prophet Bokonon?

Check back next week for the answer.  The answer to last week’s question is the Free American Corps, Howard W. Campbell’s program to use American POWs to fight the Soviets on the Russian front.

Later this week we’ll be featuring an interview with Professor Susan Farrell on American Fascism and Mother Night.

Vonnegut Trivia – week of March 12, 2017

With this post, The Daily Vonnegut begins a new series of weekly trivia questions.  Each week we’ll feature a new question about the life and work of Kurt Vonnegut.  Readers are encouraged to post their answers and check back the following week for the correct response.

This week’s question is from Mother Night. 

What is the name of the military unit in WWII invented and commanded by Howard W. Campbell, which was supposed to fight only on the Russian front? 

Check back next week for the correct answer.  For more on Mother Night, check out the Vonnegut Video of the Month, which features a 1996 interview with KV by Charlie Rose.



Vonnegut on Bob Dylan

According to the website Page Six, Kurt Vonnegut, in an interview with Hustler magazine, once called Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan the “worst poet alive.”   The quote is part of a 1991 interview that will be reprinted in the December issue of Hustler.  This is the first time I’ve seen this interview referenced.

The Page Six story can be read at the following link:

Vonnegut Calls Dylan Worst Poet Alive


2011 Interview with Donald Farber

Check out this 2011 interview with Vonnegut’s long-time agent, business manager, and friend Donald Farber.

Donald Farber on the Legacy of Kurt Vonnegut

Interestingly, Farber is asked about Vonnegut’s final, unfinished novel, If God Were Alive Today.  On the question of whether or not it would ever see the light of day, Farber responds, “…of course I’ve thought about it.  But it’s unfinished, and there’s no point in publishing an unfinished work. Kurt had said everything he had to say.”  Farber later states, “We will not publish Kurt’s unfinished work.”

Despite Farber’s comments, If God Were Alive Today was eventually published in 2012, the year after the interview, as part of the book We Are What We Pretend to Be.