Vonnegut Trivia – Week of May 27, 2018

Sadly, Loree Rackstraw, a long time friend of Kurt Vonnegut, has passed away.  Rackstraw’s 2009 memoir, Love, As Always, Kurt, is an engaging recollection of her time as one of Vonnegut’s writing students as well as her ongoing friendship with Kurt after graduation.  A professor at the University of Northern Iowa as well as a former editor of The North American Review, Rackstraw also wrote several academic articles about Vonnegut’s work.  For more, see this recent piece from The Courier.

This week’s question is about Vonnegut’s teaching career:

Q: At which university did Kurt Vonnegut teach creative writing during the mid-1960’s?

a) Bennington

b) The University of Iowa

c) The University of Northern Iowa

d) Grinnell College

Check back next week for the answer.  The correct response to last week’s question was B – “Now It’s The Women’s Turn” was the name of the painting revealed to Circe Berman at the end of Bluebeard.

For more, here’s a 1998 clip of Kurt Vonnegut and Lee Stringer discussing writing and creativity.


Vonnegut on Guns

With another school shooting in the news last week, it’s worth revisiting some of Kurt Vonengut’s writing about guns.  In Fates Worst than Death, Vonnegut writes:

  “When Charlton Heston (a movie actor who once played Jesus with shaved armpits) tells me in TV commercials about all the good work the National Rifle Association (to which Father and I both belonged when I was a kid) is doing, and how glad I should be that civilians can and do keep military weapons in their homes or vehicles or places of work, I feel exactly as though he were praising the germs of some loathsome disease, since guns in civilian hands, whether accidentally or on purpose, kill so many of us day after day.”        Fates Worse Than Death, pages 80-81

His strongest statement on guns can be found in Deadeye Dick, in which Rudy Waltz earns his nickname by firing a rifle out the window of his home, accidentally killing a pregnant woman.  In response, George Metzger, the woman’s husband, makes the following statement:

     “My wife has been killed by a machine which should never have come into the hands of any human being.  It is called a firearm.  It makes the blackest of all human wishes come true at once, at a distance: that something die.  There is evil for you.  We cannot get rid of mankind’s fleetingly wicked wishes.  We can get rid of the machines that make them come true.  I give you a holy word: DISARM.”   Deadeye Dick, page 87

Finally, from Fates Worse Than Death, page 81:

“I used to be very good with guns, was maybe the best shot in my company when I was a PFC.  But I wouldn’t have one of the motherfuckers in my house for anything.”




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