The Atlantic explains how Kurt Vonnegut’s lectures about story arcs influenced a group of researches to classify works of fiction based on six “core narratives” in order to find the “emotional trajectory of a story.” The research group hopes the data helps scientists to “train machines” to write original works....more
Posts Tagged: Kurt Vonnegut
Despite its uncanny salience in the context of this most recent wave of social injustice and protest, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout was written well before the #BlackLivesMatter movement began. Far from a coincidence, the book’s resonance is a product of the same paradox of time it describes, in which dated social conditions cannot possibly continue to exist, yet do:
All of the characters, regardless of how completely absurd they seem, are reacting to living in a time in which Beatty also resides; one in which he is daring to call something “‘Racism’ in a post-racial world.”
Without his wife Jane’s faith and encouragement in his writing, it’s highly likely we wouldn’t know Kurt Vonnegut’s name from Adam. The New Yorker explores Jane’s influence on her husband throughout his career as an author.
Kurt was more pragmatic, casting about for career ideas—teaching, reporting, opening a library with a bar.
Asked years later why he had chosen to write science fiction in his early days, Kurt replied “There was no avoiding it, since the General Electric Company WAS science fiction.”
Over at Work in Progress, Ginger Strand shows us how to invent Kurt Vonnegut: add equal parts previous failures in the field, a brother who was a scientist, and the ethical dilemmas posed by science’s advance, with a dash of crazy militants....more
It’s hard to escape news about water these days. Drought on the West Coast, hurricane season raging on the East Coast, and NASA found water on Mars. No matter where you are, these books will drench you....more
Placed after a mention of death or dying, Kurt Vonnegut’s “So it goes” refrain throughout Slaughterhouse Five utilizes repetition to explore the inevitability of death.
Over at the Ploughshares blog, E.V. De Cleyre considers how Kurt Vonnegut uses repetition in relation to death in his writing....more
A roundtable of authors choose their favorite Vonnegut work for The Oyster Review. Unsurprisingly, Cat’s Cradle came out ahead with a pretty strong hand....more
After hailing Kurt Vonnegut as the “grandfather” on her “literary family tree,” Kathleen Founds describes the experience of reading his short story, “Welcome to the Monkey House,” at BuzzFeed Books. The experience, she writes, was “akin to opening a box in my literary grandfather’s attic and finding something utterly derailing”:
If Vonnegut could see through myths about war, why couldn’t he transcend myths about sexual violence?
In a little more than two weeks, in a Hospice unit tucked away at the edge of the Atlantic, in Brunswick, North Carolina, a free grief-writing workshop will be held. When Vonnegut urged his students to “write a poem, tear it up,” he stressed the value of art, as such, apart from readership and representation....more
The Believer has just published what is likely writer Peter Matthiessen’s last interview, conducted only a month before his death. Included: Jaws, the sticker that Kurt Vonnegut left on Matthiessen’s car, and why Matthiessen didn’t like to write about New York:
I also very rarely write about cities or urban people—especially urban people of our own region.
In his newly published The Novel: a Biography, Michael Schmidt takes some time to study how the wars of the 20th century shaped the great American novel, citing Norman Mailer, Kurt Vonnegut, and Joseph Heller among those that best dealt with the subject....more
A seemingly unemployed wannabe poet, Stony secures the opportunity by winning the “Blast-Off Space Food” jingle contest and, despite confused protest from his mother, is whisked away to undergo an intensive, three-month astronautic crash course.
Would you believe us if we told you the above quote describes the premise of a ’60s TV show that stitched together aspects of Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, Sirens of Titan, and “Harrison Bergeron”?...more
Advice my father gave me: never take liquor into the bedroom. Don’t stick anything in your ears. Be anything but an architect.
To celebrate Kurt Vonnegut, Maria Popova posted on her Brain Pickings an interesting list of advices the author use to give his children, excerpted from his collection of letters....more
Here’s a lovely addition to the ongoing up-again-down-again saga of Adobe Books: Herbert Gold describes Kurt Vonnegut’s last trip to San Francisco, during which the two visited the “eternal no-rent bookshop.”
Vonnegut ended up signing a $1.95 used copy of Slaughterhouse Five, which the store’s owners were able to sell “to a collector for enough to cover the threat of eviction for a month or two.”
The trip also included burritos, which is the obvious food choice in the Mission, of course, but the image of Kurt Vonnegut snarfing a burrito under that “bristle of mustache” is somehow surprising and delightful....more
Brain Pickings continues the conversation on Kurt Vonnegut.
It all started with the recent publication of We are What We Pretend to Be: The First and Last Works followed by our interview with Vonnegut’s daughter Nanette. In ongoing musings on authors in love, Brain Pickings referenced The Rumpus....more
If you spent the weekend honoring the veterans in your life or otherwise celebrating Veterans Day, you may have missed these excellent Rumpus pieces. Don’t worry, it’s not too late to read them!
On what would have been his 90th birthday, we spoke with Kurt Vonnegut’s daughter Nanette about her father’s writing, family life, and PTSD....more
Three years ago yesterday, in honor of Kurt Vonnegut’s birthday, we reprinted Steve Almond’s homage to the late author, “Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt.”
“The main thing was that Vonnegut made an impact on readers. He wasn’t one of those recluses who hid behind coy fictional guises....more
Sylvia Plath may not be best known for her paper dolls, but we don’t usually envision Mark Twain as an avid fan of scrapbooking, either.
Check out this cool collection of the artwork of famous authors, which also includes William Burroughs’s gunshot paintings and Charles Bukowski’s watercolors....more
William Dereseiwicz’s luminous response to Kurt Vonnegut’s oeuvre recently printed by the Library of America, is a critique as much as it is hero-worship.
Dereseiwicz confronts Vonnegut’s novels from his earliest to his last, focusing on Vonnegut’s zenith in moral seriousness and the long, personal road to Slaughterhouse-Five....more
Five years ago on a tiny island in the Aegean, I cried for Kurt Vonnegut as I sat in the tub, holding in one hand the long, low-pressure shower hose and in the other, a coffee mug full of red wine....more
In The Orphan Master’s Son, Adam Johnson has not only visited a nation curtained from the rest of the world, but has recreated it with compassion and humanity. The result is a relentless examination of what it means to be human in an inhumane world....more
Twenty years before Slaughterhouse-Five, a broke Kurt Vonnegut came up with an idea for an atomic bow-tie. While he became known for his environmentalism later in life, in 1950, Vonnegut—like America at large—seemed ready to cash-in on the atomic....more