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.