A collection of reminiscences that illuminate the career and private life of the iconic author of 'Slaughterhouse-Five'
Kurt Vonnegut (1922–2007), who began his writing career working for popular magazines, held both literary aspirations and an attraction to genre fiction. His conspicuous refusal to respect literary boundaries was part of what made him a countercultural icon in the 1960s and 1970s. Vonnegut’s personal life was marked in large part by public success and private turmoil. Two turbulent marriages, his sudden adoption of his late sister’s four children (and the equally sudden removal of one of those children), and a mid-eighties suicide attempt all signaled the extent of Vonnegut’s inner troubles. Yet, he was a generous friend to many, maintaining close correspondences throughout his life.
Kurt Vonnegut Remembered gathers reminiscences—by those who knew him intimately, and from those met him only once—that span Vonnegut’s entire life. Among the anecdotes in this collection are remembrances from his immediate family, reflections from his comrades in World War II, and tributes from writers he worked with in Iowa City and from those who knew him when he was young. Editor Jim O’Loughlin offers biographical notes on Vonnegut’s relationship with each of these figures.
Since Vonnegut’s death, much has been written on his life and work, but this new volume offers a more generous view of his life, particularly his last years. In O’Loughlin’s introduction to the volume, he argues that we can locate and understand Vonnegut’s best self through his public persona, and that in his performance as the kind and humane figure that many of the speakers here knew him as, Vonnegut became a better person than he ever felt himself to be.