Vonnegut Trivia – Week of November 19, 2017

This week’s question is from the novel Hocus Pocus, published in 1990.

What did Jack Patton build as his entry for a high school science fair?

a) an atomic bomb

b) an electric chair for rats

c) a solar-powered lawn mower

d) an elephant scale

Check back next week for the correct response.  The answer to last week’s question was D.  Vonnegut’s older sister was named Alice.


Vonnegut Trivia – Week of November 12, 2017

A belated “Happy Birthday” to Kurt Vonnegut, who was born on November 11, 1922.

This week’s question delves into the Vonnegut family tree.

Q: Kurt Vonnegut had two older siblings, his brother Bernard, and an older sister.  What was Vonnegut’s sister’s name?

A) Edith

B) Jane

C) Jill

D) Alice

Check back next week for the  answer. The correct response to last week’s question was (C).  A granfalloon is a proud and meaningless association of human beings.

If you missed this week’s interview with Zachary Perdieu, you can read the full interview here: The Many Vonneguts- An Interview with Zachary Perdieu.

The Many Vonneguts – An Interview with Zachary Perdieu

In 2016, Zachary Perdieu, co-Vice President of the Kurt Vonnegut Society, delivered a paper at the American Literature Association’s annual conference titled “’That was I. That was me.’ The Many Vonneguts and Their Relationship with Fiction.” In the following interview, Perdieu shares his thoughts on “the many Vonneguts” and how Vonnegut’s fiction may have predicted his own death.

Q: Vonnegut is well-known for inserting himself into his fiction, perhaps most prominently in Breakfast of Champions. In your research you found evidence of this approach in a much earlier work, Cat’s Cradle. What did you find?

A: In Jerome Klinkowitz’s book Vonnegut In Fact (1998), Klinkowitz explains that Vonnegut attempted to insert his surname, at the very least, into the narrative of Cat’s Cradle (1963). Funnily enough, Vonnegut had already blatantly placed a “Kurt Vonnegut” character in Mother Night that came out two years before Cat’s Cradle, but this character was presented as the editor of Howard W. Campbell Jr.’s memoir manuscript. This manuscript was fictional, of course, so the “editor” character Vonnegut presented was also a fictional projection of the author, himself. Apparently, this particular presentation of a Vonnegut-character was accepted by editors, but the idea of the author’s last name entering Cat’s Cradle two years later was viewed as literary malpractice, as Klinkowitz goes on to write, “Editors talked Vonnegut out of the idea as being too radical” when Vonnegut made this attempt in Cat’s Cradle because it would be seen as “violating the aesthetic distance that critics assume must exist between reality and the fictive” (111).

So Vonnegut was “present” as an editor-character in Mother Night in 1961, and then showed up again in 1969 in Chapter 1 of Slaughterhouse-Five and a few other places in the book. As you mentioned, Vonnegut as an author/character shows up most prominently in Breakfast of Champions in 1973, where the character is interacting and manipulating with the fictional universe around him. Simply put, in the book immediately preceding Cat’s Cradle and the two that followed in publication order, representations of Vonnegut as a character are all over the place. Despite this, his editors had censored this stylistic inclination out of Cat’s Cradle.

I was at Indiana University’s Lilly Library doing research in the Vonnegut archive for my master’s thesis, and on my final day I decided to look for evidence of Klinkowitz’s claim that Vonnegut had attempted to place himself in the work in an early draft of Cat’s Cradle that was present in the archive.

Read the entire interview here.

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of November 5, 2017

This week’s question will delve into Bokononism as we feature Vonnegut vocabulary.

Q:   What is a granfalloon?

a) harmless lies

b) a uniform worn by a Bokononist minister

c) a proud and meaningless association of human beings

d) a Bokononist marriage ceremony

Check back next week for the answer.  The correct response to last week’s question was #1 – Colliers was the first magazine to publish Vonnegut’s fiction.  “Report on the Barnhouse Effect” appeared in the magazine in 1950.

For more on the recently published Kurt Vonnegut Complete Stories, check out The New York Times review by Jess Walter.

“How Kurt Vonnegut Found His Voice”


Vonnegut Trivia – Week of October 29, 2017

After a two-week hiatus, we’re back with more trivia.  This week’s question focuses on Vonnegut’s short fiction–all of which is now available in Kurt Vonnegut Complete Stories, published last month by Seven Stories Press.

Q: “Report on the Barnhouse Effect” was Vonnegut’s first published story.  In which magazine did it appear?

  1. Colliers
  2. Saturday Evening Post
  3. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
  4. Esquire

Check in next week for the correct answer.  The answer to our last question was #2 – The Foster Portfolio.

For more on Vonnegut and his influence, see our recent essay by Zachary Perdieu, “What I Pretended to Be.”

“What I Pretended to Be” by Zachary Perdieu

What I Pretended to Be – by Zachary Perdieu

Zachary Perdieu is co-Vice President of the Kurt Vonnegut essay.  In the following essay, he shares how Vonnegut’s work helped shape his future academic career.  

What I Pretended to Be

Ask any friend of mine to provide a few details about me, and my affinity for Kurt Vonnegut would never slip past the third listed item. Despite this, I was late to the clambake, so to speak, relative to many other Vonnegut fans and scholars. A common story among Vonnegut fans involves youthfully stumbling upon one of the author’s novels on a parent’s or older sibling’s bookshelf, or perhaps being assigned “Harrison Bergeron” in high school, and, from that young age, the fan carried Vonnegut into adulthood. My story isn’t so different, I suppose, but I would venture to paint it as a bit more dramatic.

Continue reading:

What I Pretended to Be by Zachary Perdieu

Vonnegut Trivia – Week of October 8, 2017

For this week’s question, we stick with short fiction.  Kurt Vonnegut Complete Stories is now available at local bookstores.

Q: In which early Vonnegut story does a rich man pretend to be poor so he can pursue his passion for playing roadhouse piano under the guise of needing the money?

  1. Who Am I This Time?
  2. The Foster Portfolio
  3. Miss Temptation
  4. Ambitious Sophomore

Check back next week for the answer.  The correct response to last week’s question was #4.  “Welcome to the Monkey House” was first published in Playboy.

For more, check out the new Vonnegut Video of the Month–a 2006 interview in which Kurt discusses censorship in America.

Vonnegut Video of the Month – Kurt Vonnegut on Censorship