Teaching Vonnegut and Race: An Interview with S. G. Ellerhoff
Over the past few years a renewed focus on the issue of race in America has entered the public conversation. In 2021, writer S.G. Ellerhoff taught a class at the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library on Vonnegut and race as part of KVML’s annual Teaching Vonnegut seminars. Ellerhoff facilitated a lively discussion as the class, many of whom were teachers, explored how Vonnegut examined America’s troubling history of racism in Breakfast of Champions, Mother Night, and other works.
And All Music is Sacred – An Interview with Richard Auldon Clark
In A Man Without A Country, Kurt Vonnegut writes that music “makes practically everybody fonder of life than he or she would be without it.” During his last fifteen years, Vonnegut shared his passion for music with composer and conductor Richard Auldon Clark, whose collaboration with Kurt on an opera version of Happy Birthday, Wanda June was performed in Indianapolis in 2016.
Directing Mother Night – An Interview with Keith Gordon
Chances are you know the scene: Rodney Dangerfield, playing Thornton Melon in Back to School, has a “major paper about Kurt Vonnegut” almost due and he’s yet to even start it. As his son Jason warns him about failing the class, there’s a knock on the door. “Hi, I’m Kurt Vonnegut. I’m looking for Thornton Melon.”
Breaking Down Vonnegut – An Interview with Julia Whitehead, Founder and CEO of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library
If there’s an MVP for promoting Kurt Vonnegut’s work and legacy, Julia Whitehead is that person. The founder and CEO of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis, Whitehead has recently published Breaking Down Vonnegut (Jossey-Bass), an introduction to Vonnegut’s life and work. Though targeted to young adults, Vonnegut fans of any age can learn from Whitehead’s book. Purchase your copy here.
Bringing Kurt Vonnegut to the Stage – An interview with Ben Rock
If you had to pick the one Kurt Vonnegut novel least likely to be adapted for the stage, The Sirens of Titan would be the go-to choice, but that didn’t stop the Sacred Fools Theater in Los Angeles from launching its production in 2017.
Firing the Flare Gun and Shouting, “Read it again!” An Interview with Alex Schmidt and Michael Swaim, creators and hosts of the podcast Kurt Vonneguys.
Born in 1922, Kurt Vonnegut grew up in the golden age of radio, when millions of people gathered around the wireless to be informed and entertained. In Palm Sunday, he shared his appreciation for the “saints” of radio comedy, from Jack Benny and Fred Allen to the now-forgotten Stoopnagle and Budd, and Vonnegut’s favorites, the comedy team Bob and Ray, who Vonnegut wrote “continued to create marvelous material for radio at a time when radio creatively was otherwise dead.”
Two Guys From the Same Family – An Interview with Robert Weide, co-director of Unstuck in Time.
If you’re a fan of Kurt Vonnegut, you’ve been waiting for this film for years. Maybe you even contributed to the Kickstarter campaign to help fund production. Now, after decades in the making, Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time has finally arrived.
The Writer’s Crusade – An Interview with Tom Roston
In The Writer’s Crusade: Kurt Vonnegut and The Many Lives of Slaughterhouse-Five, Tom Roston explores Vonnegut’s twenty-five year battle to transform his Dresden experience into a lasting work of art. The Writer’s Crusade moves beyond standard literary criticism to tell the story of Slaughterhouse-Five’s creation while addressing issues of PTSD, memory and collective trauma, and how a new generation of war writers struggle in their own crusades. Roston’s book is a welcome and necessary addition to the enduring conversation about Vonnegut and his work.
Waking People Up – The Prophetic Voice of Kurt Vonnegut: An Interview with Steve Almond, author of Not That You Asked and William Stoner and The Battle for The Inner Life
Steve Almond is the author of ten books of fiction and nonfiction, including the New York Times bestsellers Candyfreak and Against Football. His latest book, William Stoner and the Battle for the Inner Life , is about reading and writing and the struggle to pay attention to our lives.
Love, Kurt: The Vonnegut Love Letter – An Interview with Edith Vonnegut
Love, Kurt: The Vonnegut Love Letters 1941-1945 (Random House) is an unexpected and delightful addition to the Vonnegut canon. Edited by Kurt’s daughter, Edith Vonnegut, the book gives readers a look at the hundreds of letters Kurt wrote to his future wife Jane Cox, his words documenting their burgeoning relationship and dreams for the future.
A Delicate Aggression: Kurt Vonnegut at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop – An Interview with David O. Dowling
In A Delicate Aggression: Savagery and Survival in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (2019 – Yale University Press), David O. Dowling explores the history of America’ preeminent creative writing program. When Kurt Vonnegut joined the Workshop faculty during the mid-1960’s he stood out for his lack of distinction. What was an obscure science fiction writer doing teaching the most promising writing students in the country? In his chapter on Vonnegut’s time at the Workshop, Dowling traces Vonnegut’s metamorphosis from relative anonymity to literary superstardom.
Vonnegut as Cultural Guide – Kurt Vonnegut in the Soviet Union: An Interview with Sarah D. Phillips
Kurt Vonnegut’s literary reputation in the United States has been well-documented, but little has been written about his impact in the Soviet Union during the years of the Cold War. Sarah D. Phillips is set on changing that. Phillips, a professor of anthropology at Indiana University, has done valuable research on Vonnegut’s presence and popularity in the Soviet Union. Her lecture, “American Literary and Cultural Diplomacy during the Cold War: Kurt Vonnegut in the Soviet Union” is available on YouTube.
Looking Deep into the Heart of the American Experience – An Interview with David Hoppe, author of Readings from Kurt Vonnegut: WordPlay (2020)
On October 1, 2020, Readings from Kurt Vonnegut: WordPlay by David Hoppe will be performed by The Phoenix Theater as a fundraiser for the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis. For tickets, visit the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library website.
The play’s creator, David Hoppe, shared his thoughts with The Daily Vonnegut.
Forever Altering Perceptions of Life – An Interview with Ryan North and Albert Monteys, creators of Slaughterhouse-Five, The Graphic Novel
From novel to film to audiobook and now graphic novel, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five continues to find ways to reach its audience. This new adaptation by Ryan North and Albert Monteys reimagines Billy Pilgrim’s journey through the medium of comics, creating a reading experience that is still classic Vonnegut, but also equal parts North and Monteys…
Suzanne McConnell – Pity the Reader (2020)
Ever wish you could become unstuck in time and wind up back in Iowa City during the 1960’s and enroll in one of Kurt Vonnegut’s classes at the Iowa Writers Workshop? If so, writer Suzanne McConnell is here to offer the next best thing. A former student of Vonnegut’s at Iowa, McConnell has mined Vonnegut’s many comments on writing fiction into the wonderful new book from Seven Stories Press, Pity the Reader: On Writing with Style by Kurt Vonnegut and Suzanne McConnell.
Benjamin Reed – Teaching “Harrison Bergeron” (2017)
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.”
Heather Augustyn – Vonnegut’s Last Interview (2017)
In May 2007, In These Times magazine published Kurt Vonnegut’s last interview on its website. Conducted by journalist Heather Augustyn, the interview focuses on Vonnegut’s relationship with Indiana. Despite his poor health, Vonnegut’s responses were lively and sharp.
Jeffrey Wise and Matt Harrington: Wheelhouse Theater Company presents “Happy Birthday, Wanda June.” (2018)
In December 1970, Kurt Vonnegut wrote to his friend, fellow novelist Jose Donoso, “…The adventure of having a play produced was harrowing…But I had to begin my theatrical career with something—and now I have in fact begun. I’ve written six novels. Now I want to write six plays.” (Kurt Vonnegut Letters, Delacorte Press, 2012 p. 165.)
Jerome Klinkowitz – One Thief Was Saved (2017)
All Vonnegut fans should be familiar with the work of Jerome Klinkowitz, whose many books include the recent The Vonnegut Effect and Kurt Vonnegut’s America. He is currently University Distinguished Scholar and Professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa.
Jim O’Loughlin – The World of Kurt Vonnegut (2017)
In 2013 the Vonnegut Estate reached an agreement with Amazon to allow writers to use copyrighted elements of Vonnegut’s work for stories published exclusively for Amazon’s Kindle. These stories, under the category The World of Kurt Vonnegut, are available for download on Amazon. The “World” program gives fans the chance to apply their own imaginative powers to Vonnegut’s narratives, characters, and settings.
Josh Privett– On Player Piano (2017)
Josh Privett is a writer and college instructor in Greenville, SC. Josh has spoken on two Kurt Vonnegut Society panels at the American Literature Association and recently published an article on Player Piano in New Academia: An International Journal of English Language, Literature and Literary Theory. He is beginning a PhD in American literature at Georgia State University in the fall.
Julia Whitehead – #Thanks to Kurt (2017)
Ever wish you could sit down and have a conversation with your favorite author? While a face to face talk with Kurt Vonnegut is no longer possible, the Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indiana has launched a project encouraging readers to share their thoughts and feelings in a Letter to Kurt. The Thanks to Kurt project, part of the Library’s website, helps readers share their thoughts and appreciation for Vonnegut’s life and work. In the interview below, Julia Whitehead, the Library’s Executive Director, explains more about the project.
Kevin Brown – Harmful Untruths (2018)
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.
Marc Leeds – The Vonnegut Encyclopedia (2017)
The Vonnegut Encyclopedia by Marc Leeds, an invaluable reference for Vonnegut fans, has been published by Delacorte Press in a new updated edition. To celebrate, we’re reposting a 2015 interview with Leeds, who spoke with The Daily Vonnegut about the Encyclopedia and his relationship with KV.
Steve Gronert Ellerhoff – Vonnegut and Myth (2017)
While Kurt Vonnegut’s signature blend of post-modernism, Twain-style humor, and Indianapolis-bred Americana might seem distant from the structures of classic myth, writer and scholar Steve Gronert Ellerhoff thinks differently. In Golden Apples of the Monkey House: A Post-Jungian Interpretation of Myth in the Short Stories of Kurt Vonnegut and Ray Bradbury, soon to be published by Routledge, Ellerhoff explores Vonnegut’s early short fiction and its connection to themes found in myth.
Susan Farrell – American Fascism and Mother Night (2017)
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.
Vonnegut and Hemingway – An Interview with Lawrence R. Broer (2017)
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.
Wilson Taylor – The Vonnegut Review (2019)
In 2013 Wilson Taylor and Matthew Gannon, two friends and writers with a passion for literature, criticism, and Kurt Vonnegut, launched their Summer of Vonnegut, a critical conversation in which the two writers read and reviewed all fourteen of Vonnegut’s novels. The resulting essays comprise The Vonnegut Review, a website featuring Wilson’s and Gannon’s insightful explorations of Vonnegut’s work. Taylor and Gannon combine their sharp critical eyes and knowledge of literary theory with an appreciation for the essential humanity of Vonnegut’s fiction. Their work is highly recommended, and available at The Vonnegut Review.
Amanda Hamilton – Blue Monday Review (2017)
Kurt Vonnegut’s literary legacy continues to resonate with a new generation of readers and writers. Blue Monday Review is a new literary journal “dedicated to the spirit of Kurt Vonnegut and the concept that literature and art keep us human.” Amanda Hamilton, editor-in-chief of Blue Monday Review, graciously responded to our questions about the journal.
Jim O’Loughlin – Kurt Vonnegut Remembered (2019)
Kurt Vonnegut Remembered, recently published by The University of Alabama Press, is a must-read for Vonnegut fans as it traces the author’s life through a series of essays and recollections from those who knew him best. The list of contributors ranges from well-known media figures like Geraldo Rivera and Michael Moore to Vonnegut family members and fellow soldiers who served with Kurt in World War II.
Curtis Smith – Bookmarked: Slaughterhouse-Five (2017)
Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five by Curtis Smith, part of Ig Publishing’s Bookmarked series, is one writer’s thoughts and reflections through the lens of Vonnegut’s great novel. Neither literary criticism nor memoir, the book contains elements of both, as Smith explores the novel’s themes as they relate to history, time, mortality, and the arc of Smith’s own life.