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. Jane had just one idea, and she pressed it with patient determination. Kurt would be a writer—a great one. Her conviction terrified him. “You scare me when you say that I am going to create the literature of 1945 onwards and upwards,” he wrote to her in August of that year. “Angel, will you stick by me if it goes backwards and downwards?” Jane brooked no such doubts. She suggested books for him to read—“The Brothers Karamazov,” “War and Peace”—and they discussed them by letter. She urged him to use his free time at Fort Riley to pound out stories. He worked from five-thirty to seven-thirty each night and mailed his efforts back to Indianapolis for Jane to edit and re-type.