Kurt Vonnegut: Political but not Partisan– An Interview with Philip D. Bunn
From his first published story (“Report on the Barnhouse Effect”) in which the narrator addresses an unnamed committee to the scathing indictments of the Bush Administration in A Man Without a Country, Kurt Vonnegut consistently engaged with the important issues of his time. Through his novels, essays, and speeches, a vision for a more peaceful and just world emerges, one in which the basic human need for care and community is honored instead of commodified.
Kurt Vonnegut’s Humanism: An Interview with Wayne Laufert, author of Behaving Decently: Kurt Vonnegut’s Humanism
In his late career book God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian, Kurt Vonnegut wrote, “I am a humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without any expectation of rewards or punishments after I’m dead.” Throughout his career, Vonnegut often wrote of his humanist views, tracing them back to his “freethinking” ancestors in Indiana.
Citizen Kurt – An Interview with Christina Jarvis, author of Lucky Mud & Other Foma: A Field Guide to Kurt Vonnegut’s Environmentalism and Planetary Citizenship
For Kurt Vonnegut, writing was an act of good citizenship, his way of “poisoning the minds of young people” with humanity. In Lucky Mud & Other Foma: A Field Guide to Kurt Vonnegut’s Environmentalism and Planetary Citizenship (Seven Stories Press), Christina Jarvis explores how Vonnegut addressed myriad social and environmental problems, from pollution, racial and economic injustice, and war to dehumanizing technologies and ecological collapse.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.