Vonnegut’s Secret Weapon

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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.


Kelly Lynn Thomas reads, writes, and sometimes sews in Pittsburgh, PA. Her creative work has appeared in Sou’wester, Thin Air Magazine, Heavy Feather Review, metazen, and others, and she received her MFA in Creative Writing from Chatham University. She is hopelessly obsessed with Star Wars and can always be found with a large mug of tea. She also runs the very small Wild Age Press. Read more at kellylynnthomas.com. More from this author →