Responses: 6
LTC Stephen F.
Edited 17 d ago
Thank you my friend SGT (Join to see) for reminding us that on April 11, 2007 American author Kurt Vonnegut Jr, died from head trauma at the age of 84.
He is a extraordinary talented writer. I read his novels Cat's Cradle and Slaughterhouse-Five.

Kurt Vonnegut - So it goes [documentario BBC Arena, 1983] (SUB ITA)

1. U.S. Army PV2 Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. in WWII
2. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Age 4.
3. Siblings Bernard, Alice and Kurt Vonnegut smile together. The Vonnegut's called the family rowboat the Beralikur, a combination of the children's names
4. Kurt [on ground], Bernie, and Alice at their childhood home on Illinois St. in Indianapolis. c. 1928

Background from {[https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Kurt_Vonnegut]}
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.;
Born: November 11, 1922; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Died: April 11, 2007, New York, New York, USA

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) was an American novelist known for works blending satire, black comedy, and science fiction, such as Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), Cat's Cradle (1963), and Breakfast of Champions (1973).[1] Like his friend, Joseph Heller, whom he met at a literary convention on the night of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Vonnegut is known for his ironical and satirical look at modern life. Vonnegut was a former President of the American Humanist Association. Secular humanism is characterized by confidence in human reason and the scientific method as a means of discovering truth and organizing society; an emphasis on earthly life; and optimism that a more rational organization of society can make life better for all humans.

Early years
Vonnegut was born to third-generation German-American parents in Indianapolis, Indiana. As a student at Shortridge High School in Indianapolis,[2] Vonnegut worked on the nation's first daily high school newspaper, The Daily Echo. He briefly attended Butler University but dropped out when a professor said his stories were not good enough. He attended Cornell University from 1941 to 1942, where he served as assistant managing editor and associate editor for the student newspaper, the Cornell Daily Sun, majoring in biochemistry. While attending Cornell, he was a member of the Delta Upsilon fraternity, following in the footsteps of his father. Nevertheless, Vonnegut often spoke and wrote about The Sun being the only enjoyable part of his time at Cornell.[3] He enrolled at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in 1943. He studied there only briefly before enlisting in the U.S. Army during World War II. On May 14, 1944, Mothers' Day, his mother, Edith Lieber Vonnegut, committed suicide.[4]
Vonnegut's experience as a soldier and prisoner of war had a profound influence on his later work. As an advance scout with the U.S. 106th Infantry Division during the Battle of the Bulge, Vonnegut was cut off from his battalion and wandered alone behind enemy lines for several days until he was captured by German troops on December 14, 1944.[5] While a prisoner of war, Vonnegut witnessed the aftermath of the February 13–February 15, 1945 bombing of Dresden, Germany, which destroyed much of the city. Vonnegut was one of just seven American prisoners of war in Dresden to survive, in an underground meatpacking cellar known as “Slaughterhouse Five.” "Utter destruction," he recalled. "Carnage unfathomable."
The Nazis put him to work gathering bodies for mass burial, Vonnegut explains. "But there were too many corpses to bury. So instead the Nazis sent in guys with flamethrowers. All these civilians' remains were burned to ashes."[6] This experience formed the core of his most famous work, Slaughterhouse-Five and is a theme in at least six other books.[6]
Vonnegut was freed by Soviet troops in May 1945. Upon returning to America, Vonnegut was awarded a Purple Heart for what he called a "ludicrously negligible wound."
Post-war career
After the war, Vonnegut attended the University of Chicago as a graduate student in anthropology and also worked as a police reporter at the City News Bureau of Chicago. According to Vonnegut in Bagombo Snuff Box, the university rejected his first thesis on the necessity of accounting for the similarities between Cubist painting and Native American uprisings of the late nineteenth century, saying it was "unprofessional." They later accepted his novel Cat's Cradle and awarded him the degree. He left Chicago to work in Schenectady, New York, in public relations for General Electric. He attributes his unadorned writing style to his earlier reporting work.
On the verge of abandoning writing, Vonnegut was offered a teaching job at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. While he was there Cat's Cradle became a best-seller, and he began Slaughterhouse-Five, now considered one of the best American novels of the twentieth century, appearing on the 100 best lists of Time magazine[7] and the Modern Library.[8]
Early in his adult life, he moved to Barnstable, Massachusetts, a picturesque town on Cape Cod.[9]

Personal life and death
He married his childhood sweetheart, Jane Marie Cox, after returning from World War II, but the couple separated in 1970. He did not divorce Cox until 1979, but from 1970 to 2000, Vonnegut lived with the woman who would later become his second wife, photographer Jill Krementz. Krementz and Vonnegut were married after the divorce from Cox was finalized.
He had seven children: he shared three with his first wife, adopted his sister Alice's three children when she died of cancer, and adopted another child, Lily. Two of these children have published books, including his only biological son, Mark Vonnegut, who wrote The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity, about his experiences in the late 1960s and his major psychotic breakdown and recovery; the tendency to insanity he acknowledged may be partly hereditary, influencing him to take up the study of medicine and orthomolecular psychiatry. Mark was named after Mark Twain, whom Vonnegut considered an American saint, and to whom he bears some resemblance, in both style and appearance.[10][11]
His daughter Edith Vonnegut, an artist, has also had her work published in a book entitled Domestic Goddesses. Edith was once married to Geraldo Rivera. She was named after Vonnegut's mother, Edith Lieber. His youngest daughter is Nanette, named after Nanette Schnull, Vonnegut's paternal grandmother.
Of Vonnegut's four adopted children, three are his nephews: James, Steven and Kurt Adams; the fourth is Lily, a girl he adopted as an infant in 1982. James, Steven and Kurt were adopted after a traumatic week in 1958, in which their father was killed when his commuter train went off an open drawbridge in New Jersey, and their mother—Kurt's sister Alice—died of cancer. In Slapstick or Lonesome No More, Kurt recounts that Alice's husband died two days before Alice herself. Her family tried to hide the knowledge from her, but she found out when an ambulatory patient gave her a copy of the New York Daily News, a day before she herself died. The fourth and youngest of the boys, Peter Nice, went to live with a first cousin of their father in Birmingham, Alabama as an infant. Lily is a singer and actress.
On January 31, 2000, a fire destroyed the top story of his home. Vonnegut suffered smoke inhalation and was hospitalized in critical condition for four days. He survived, but his personal archives were destroyed. After leaving the hospital, he recuperated in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Vonnegut died at the age of 84 on April 11, 2007, in Manhattan, New York, after a fall at his home several weeks prior resulted in irreversible brain injuries.[1][12]

Writing career
His first short story, "Report on the Barnhouse Effect," appeared in 1950 in Collier's. His first novel was the dystopian science fiction novel Player Piano (1952), in which human workers have been largely replaced by machines. He continued to write science fiction short stories before his second novel, The Sirens of Titan, was published in 1959.[13] Through the 1960s the form of his work changed, from the orthodox science fiction of Cat's Cradle (which in 1971 got him his master's degree) to the acclaimed, semiautobiographical Slaughterhouse-Five, given a more experimental structure by using time travel as a plot device.
These structural experiments were continued in Breakfast of Champions (1973), which included many rough illustrations, lengthy non-sequiturs and an appearance by the author himself, as a deus ex machina.
"This is a very bad book you're writing," I said to myself.
"I know," I said.
"You're afraid you'll kill yourself the way your mother did," I said.
"I know," I said.
Vonnegut attempted suicide in 1984 and later wrote about this in several essays.[14]
Breakfast of Champions became one of his best sellers. It includes, beyond the author himself, several of Vonnegut's recurring characters. One of them, Kilgore Trout, plays a major role and interacts with the author's character.
In addition to recurring characters, there are also recurring themes and ideas. One of them is ice-nine (a central wampeter in his novel Cat's Cradle), said to be a new form of ice with a different crystal structure from normal ice. When a crystal of ice-nine is brought into contact with liquid water, it becomes a seed that “teaches” the molecules of liquid water to arrange themselves into ice-nine. However, this process is not easily reversible, as the melting point of ice-nine is 114.4 degrees Fahrenheit (45.8 degrees Celsius). Ice-nine could be considered a fictionalization of the real scientific controversy surrounding polywater, a hypothetical form of water which has since been disproved.
Metaphorically, ice-nine represents any potentially lethal invention created without regard for the consequences. Ice-nine—the eighth in a series of differently crystalizing ices with successively higher melting points—is patently dangerous, as even a small piece of it dropped in the ocean would cause all the earth's water to solidify (Vonnegut ignores the fact that this is thermodynamically impossible). Yet it was created, simply because human beings like to create and invent.
Although many of his later novels involved science fiction themes, they were widely read and reviewed outside the field, not least due to their anti-authoritarianism. For example, his seminal short story “Harrison Bergeron” graphically demonstrates how even the debatably noble sentiment of egalitarianism, when combined with too much authority, becomes horrific repression.
In much of his work Vonnegut's own voice is apparent, often filtered through the character of science fiction author Kilgore Trout (based on real-life science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon), characterized by wild leaps of imagination and a deep cynicism, tempered by humanism. In the foreword to Breakfast of Champions, Vonnegut wrote that as a child, he saw men with locomotor ataxia, and it struck him that these men walked like broken machines; it followed that healthy people were working machines, suggesting that humans are helpless prisoners of determinism. Vonnegut also explored this theme in Slaughterhouse-Five, in which protagonist Billy Pilgrim "has come unstuck in time" and has so little control over his own life that he cannot even predict which part of it he will be living through from minute to minute. Vonnegut's well-known phrase "So it goes," used ironically in reference to death, also originated in Slaughterhouse-Five and became a slogan for anti-Vietnam War protestors in the 1960s. "Its combination of simplicity, irony, and rue is very much in the Vonnegut vein."[12]
With the publication of his novel Timequake, Vonnegut announced his retirement from writing fiction. He continued to write for the magazine In These Times, where he was a senior editor, until his death in 2007, focusing on subjects ranging from contemptuous criticism of President George W. Bush's administration to simple observational pieces on topics such as a trip to the post office. In 2005, many of his essays were collected in a new bestselling book titled A Man Without a Country, which he insisted would be his last contribution.
An August 2006 article reported:
He has stalled finishing his highly anticipated novel If God Were Alive Today - or so he claims. "I've given up on it ... It won't happen. ... The Army kept me on because I could type, so I was typing other people's discharges and stuff. And my feeling was, 'Please, I've done everything I was supposed to do. Can I go home now?' That's what I feel right now. I've written books. Lots of them. Please, I've done everything I'm supposed to do. Can I go home now?"[6]

Design career
Vonnegut's work as a graphic artist began with his illustrations for Slaughterhouse-Five and developed with Breakfast of Champions, which included numerous felt-tip pen illustrations, such as anal sphincters, and other, less indelicate images. Later in his career, he became more interested in artwork, particularly silk-screen prints, pursued in collaboration with Joe Petro III.
More recently, Vonnegut participated in the project The Greatest Album Covers That Never Were, where he created an album cover for Phish called Hook, Line and Sinker, which has been included in a traveling exhibition for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Vonnegut was a humanist; he served as honorary president of the American Humanist Association, having replaced Isaac Asimov in what Vonnegut called "that totally functionless capacity." He was deeply influenced by early socialist labor leaders, especially Indiana natives Powers Hapgood and Eugene V. Debs, and he frequently quotes them in his work. He named characters after both Debs (Eugene Debs Hartke in Hocus Pocus) and Russian communist leader Leon Trotsky (Leon Trotsky Trout in Galapagos). He was a lifetime member of the American Civil Liberties Union, and was featured in a print advertisement for them.
Walter Starbuck, the main character of his novel Jailbird, was a minor bureaucrat in the Nixon administration who found himself swept up in the Watergate scandal. Otherwise, while he frequently addressed moral and political issues, Vonnegut rarely dealt with specific political figures until after his retirement from fiction. His collection God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian referenced controversial assisted suicide proponent Jack Kevorkian.
With his columns for In These Times, he began a blistering attack on the administration of President George W. Bush and the Iraq war. "By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East?" he wrote. "Their morale, like so many bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas in December."[15]
In A Man Without a Country, he wrote that "George W. Bush has gathered around him upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography." He did not regard the 2004 election with much optimism; speaking of Bush and Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential nominee, John Kerry, he said that "no matter which one wins, we will have a Skull and Bones President at a time when entire vertebrate species, because of how we have poisoned the topsoil, the waters and the atmosphere, are becoming, hey presto, nothing but skulls and bones."[16]
In 2005 Vonnegut was interviewed by David Neson for The Australian.[17] During the course of the interview Vonnegut was asked his opinion of modern terrorists, to which he replied "I regard them as very brave people." When pressed further Vonnegut also said that "They [suicide bombers] are dying for their own self-respect. It's a terrible thing to deprive someone of their self-respect. It's [like] your culture is nothing, your race is nothing, you're nothing ... It is sweet and noble - sweet and honourable I guess it is - to die for what you believe in" (This last statement is a reference to the line "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" ["it is sweet and appropriate to die for your country"] from Horace's Odes, or possibly from Wilfred Owen's ironic use of the line in his “Dulce Et Decorum Est”). David Neson took offense to Vonnegut's comments and characterized him as an old man who "doesn't want to live any more ... and because he can't find anything worthwhile to keep him alive, he finds defending terrorists somehow amusing." Vonnegut's son, Dr. Mark Vonnegut, responded to the article by writing an editorial to the Boston Globe in which he explained the reasons behind his father's "provocative posturing" and stated that "If these commentators can so badly misunderstand and underestimate an utterly unguarded English-speaking 83-year-old man with an extensive public record of exactly what he thinks, maybe we should worry about how well they understand an enemy they can't figure out what to call."[18]
A 2006 interview with Rolling Stone magazine stated:
... it's not surprising that he disdains everything about the Iraq War. The very notion that more than 2,500 U.S. soldiers have been killed in what he sees as an unnecessary conflict makes him groan. “Honestly, I wish Nixon were president,” Vonnegut laments. “Bush is so ignorant.”[6]

1. ↑ Jump up to:1.0 1.1 Dinitia Smith, “Kurt Vonnegut, Novelist Who Caught the Imagination of His Age, Is Dead at 84,” The New York Times (April 12, 2007). Retrieved September 4, 2007. Free subscription required.
2. ↑ The Shortridge High School Collection, Indiana Historical Society (IndianaHistory.org). Retrieved September 4, 2007.
3. ↑ “Novelist Kurt Vonnegut '44 Dies,” Cornell Sun (April 12, 2007). Retrieved September 4, 2007.
4. ↑ Peter Reed, “The Artist, Kurt Vonnegut’s Fantastic Ideas,” Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts 10(1) (1999).
5. ↑ Kurt Vonnegut, NNDB. Retrieved September 4, 2007.
6. ↑ Jump up to:6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Douglas Brinkley, “Vonnegut's Apocalypse,” Rolling Stone (August 9, 2006). Retrieved September 4, 2007.
7. ↑ All-Time 100 Novels: Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), Time Magazine. Retrieved September 4, 2007.
8. ↑ 100 Best Novels, Modern Library (July 20, 1998). Retrieved September 4, 2007.
9. ↑ Mitchel Levitas, “A Slight Case of Candor,” The New York Times(August 19, 1968). Retrieved September 4, 2007.
10. ↑ “And The Twain Shall Meet,” University of Wisconsin-Madison News (November 21, 1997). Retrieved September 4, 2007.
11. ↑ Simon Houpt, “The world according to Kurt,” GlobeAndMail.com. Retrieved September 4, 2007. Article purchase required for full text.
12. ↑ Jump up to:12.0 12.1 Mark Feeney, “Counterculture author, icon Kurt Vonnegut Jr. dies at 84,” Boston Globe (April 12, 2007). Retrieved September 4, 2007.
13. ↑ Brian Stableford, The Encyclopedia Of Science Fiction, 2nd ed., edited by John Clute and Peter Nicholls (London: Orbit, 1993, ISBN [login to see] ), 1289.
14. ↑ Matthew Robinson, “Kurt Vonnegut dies at 84,” Reuters (April 12, 2007). Retrieved September 4, 2007.
15. ↑ Kurt Vonnegut, “Cold Turkey,” In These Times (May 10, 2004). Retrieved September 4, 2007.
16. ↑ Kurt Vonnegut, “The End Is Near,” In These Times (October 29, 2004). Retrieved September 4, 2007.
17. ↑ David Nason, “Darkness Visible,” The Australian (November 19, 2005). Retrieved September 4, 2007.
18. ↑ Mark Vonnegut, “Twisting Vonnegut’s views on terrorism,” Boston Globe (December 27, 2005). Retrieved September 4, 2007."

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Known as one of America's literary giants, Kurt Vonnegut visited the campus in 2004 to meet with Case's College Scholars and to give a public lecture.
Students at Case Western Reserve University will hang with one of America's literary giants when he visits Cleveland for a public lecture, sponsored by the Case College Scholars Program.

1. Vonnegut with his wife Jane, and children (from left to right) - Mark, Edith and Nanette, in 1955
2. Bernard and Kurt at home before Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. enlisted.
3. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. age 18 from the Shortridge High School 1940 yearbook
4. Jane & Kurt Vonnegut Jr post-WWII after his release from German POW camp in Dresden

Background from {[http://blogs.cofc.edu/vonnegut/vonneguts-life/]}
Vonnegut’s Life
–Adapted from Critical Companion to Kurt Vonnegut: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work by Susan Farrell. ((New York: Facts on File Press, 2008).
Kurt Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on November 11, 1922, the third child of Kurt Vonnegut, Sr. and Edith Lieber Vonnegut. Both Vonnegut’s father, Kurt Sr., and his grandfather, Bernard Vonnegut, were local architects in Indianapolis. While the family was comfortably well-to-do during Vonnegut’s earliest childhood, they suffered financial setbacks during the depression years. As a result, Vonnegut attended public schools even though his older siblings had received private school educations. But Vonnegut thrived at Shortridge High School in Indianapolis, where he played clarinet in the school band and served as a writer and editor for the school’s daily newspaper.
After graduating from high school in 1940, Vonnegut enrolled at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, as a biochemistry major. Despite joining a fraternity, he disliked Cornell and did not feel that he fit in well until he joined the staff of the college newspaper, The Cornell Daily Sun, where he found a home. But his grades remained low, and Vonnegut ended up withdrawing from Cornell his junior year after coming down with a severe case of pneumonia.
Having enlisted in the U.S. Army in November of 1942, a few months before he actually left Cornell, Vonnegut was sent to basic training in 1943. During his army training, he studied mechanical engineering at Carnegie Technical Institute and the University of Tennessee. Vonnegut was later stationed at Camp Atturbury, just south of Indianapolis, close enough to home for weekend visits. On one such visit , over Mother’s Day, 1944, Vonnegut’s mother Edith died from an overdose of sleeping pills, a death that Vonnegut always considered a suicide and that would haunt the writer for the rest of his life.
A few months after his mother’s death, Vonnegut’s army unit, the 106th Infantry Division, was shipped overseas to fight in World War Two. Vonnegut, along with the five other battalion scouts in his unit and about fifty other American soldiers, was captured by the German Army in December of 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge, the last main German offensive of the war. Vonnegut and his fellow American prisoners were shipped to Dresden in railroad boxcars, where he worked in a factory that manufactured a vitamin-fortified malt syrup for pregnant women, and where, on the night of February 13, 1945, he experienced the Allied firebombing of the city, events fictionalized as part of Billy Pilgrim’s war experiences in Slaughterhouse-Five.
Arriving back home in Indianapolis in May of 1945 as a twenty-two year old war veteran with a Purple Heart, Vonnegut soon married his childhood sweetheart, Jane Cox. In December of 1945, the newlyweds moved to Chicago, where Kurt enrolled in the University of Chicago as a graduate student in Anthropology and Jane, a Swarthmore College graduate, received a full scholarship to undertake graduate studies in Russian, although she never earned her degree, dropping out of school when she became pregnant with the couple’s first child, Mark. During his time as a graduate student at the University of Chicago, Vonnegut also worked as a reporter for the Chicago City News Bureau.
The young family moved to Schenectady, New York in 1947, when Vonnegut was offered a job in the public relations department at General Electric. It was at General Electric that Vonnegut would begin his career as a fiction writer, gathering material for his first short stories as well as his early novels—Player Piano and Cat’s Cradle especially—from his experiences there. Selling several short stories to slick magazines like Collier’s and the Saturday Evening Post in the early 1950’s allowed Vonnegut to quit his public relations job, move to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and settle into writing full time. His first novel, Player Piano, about a machine-dominated future, was published by Scribner’s in 1952.
Although Vonnegut continued to earn the majority of his income through his magazine story sales in the decade of the 1950s’s, the pressures of a growing family–son Mark had been born in May of 1947, daughter Edith in 1949, and daughter Nanette in 1954–caused him to turn his hand to other means of earning money as well. He taught at a school for learning disabled children for a brief period and even operated a Saab auto dealership on Cape Cod. But Vonnegut’s family life took a traumatic turn in 1958, when his sister Alice died of cancer forty-eight hours after her husband, James Carmalt Adams, had been killed in a commuter train crash in New York City. The Vonneguts adopted the three oldest Adams boys, fourteen-year-old James, eleven-year-old Steven, and nine-year-old Kurt, after their parents’ deaths. A much younger brother, Peter, a baby at the time, was eventually adopted by a first cousin of his father, who lived in Birmingham, Alabama.
Vonnegut continued to write in the midst of family turmoil, turning back to the form of the novel at the end of the decade, and soon publishing as paperback originals two wildly different novels: Sirens of Titan in 1959 and Mother Night in 1962. Although Vonnegut was now established as a published writer, sales of his books were small and he remained largely unknown. When his paperback editor, Samuel Stewart, of the Western Printing Company, moved to Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, he arranged for Vonnegut’s next novel, Cat’s Cradle (1963), to come out in hardback. The novel, an apocalyptic tale of destruction caused by the invention of the fantastical weapon ice-nine, a thinly veiled metaphor for the atomic bomb, was critically well-received in key places. While Cat’s Cradle hardly made Vonnegut a household name, it did increase the small but devoted fan base the author had earned from his previous novels. Cat’s Cradle was particularly popular among college students, earning Vonnegut something of a cult following on college campuses, where students often introduced the author’s work to their professors.
Another turning point in Vonnegut’s career came in 1965, when he accepted a two-year teaching position at the prestigious Iowa Writer’s Workshop. In Iowa, Vonnegut was able, for the first time, to immerse himself in a community of creative writers, both students and fellow faculty members. His fifth novel, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, the story of a tender-hearted but hapless millionaire who hopes to create a better world by being intensely sympathetic to all of his fellow human beings, was published by Holt, Rinehart & Winston in 1965. But it was his masterpiece, Slaughterhouse-Five, published in 1969, that made Vonnegut a wealthy man as well as a celebrity. The novel tells the tale of preposterous soldier Billy Pilgrim, a tall, ungainly chaplain’s assistant from Ilium, New York, who is captured by Germans during World War Two and survives the Dresden bombing in a concrete slaughterhouse. Back in Ilium as a middle-aged optometrist, Billy is kidnapped by space aliens who take him to the planet Tralfamadore to be mated with an American porn star. Billy’s war experiences, however, have left him “unstuck in time” so that he travels back and forth between his Tralfamadorian experiences, his war memories, and his time in Ilium, unable to control where he will go next.
Vonnegut maintained a high profile after the publication of Slaughterhouse-Five, speaking frequently at colleges and universities, writing articles and book reviews, dabbling again in journalism, and even trying his hand at play writing. At the same time his professional career was blossoming, however, Vonnegut’s personal life was very much in flux. He separated from his wife, Jane Cox Vonnegut, in 1971, and moved from Cape Cod to Manhattan, where he began living with photographer Jill Krementz, who would become his second wife in 1979, after he and Jane were officially divorced. Despite a tumultuous personal life, Vonnegut would go on to publish three more novels in the decade of the 1970’s as well as his first collection of speeches and essays, Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons.
Remaining prolific over the 1980’s and 1990’s, Vonnegut published a children’s book, Sun Moon Star (1980), with illustrations by graphic artist Ivan Chermayeff, two more books of collected speeches, essays, and anecdotes which he characterized as “autobiographical collages,” as well as five more novels. Although artistically productive during this period, Vonnegut was also battling severe depression. In the mid-80’s, like his mother before him, Vonnegut attempted suicide by ingesting a combination of sleeping pills and alcohol. After his recovery, he would write and speak frankly about the mental problems affecting his mother and son Mark, and about his own depression, especially in the autobiographical work Fates Worse Than Death (1991).
In early 2000, Vonnegut was nearly killed in a small home fire in his Manhattan brownstone, a fire which appeared to be the result of the writer’s carelessness in smoking his famous unfiltered Pall Mall cigarettes. Rescued by a neighbor and by his and Jill’s adopted teenage daughter Lily, Vonnegut spent several days in the hospital in critical condition suffering from smoke inhalation. He eventually made a complete recovery, and went on to publish, in 2005, at the age of eighty-two, another collected volume of speeches, anecdotes, and opinions, called A Man Without a Country. The book particularly emphasizes Vonnegut’s disappointment with the presidential administration of George W. Bush, and Bush’s leading of the country into war with Iraq. In publicity appearances to support this book, Vonnegut re-cemented his earlier connection to young people, even appearing on The Daily Show, the immensely popular satirical news program hosted by comedian Jon Stewart.
At the very end of his life, Vonnegut turned largely from writing to the visual arts. In a brief Author’s Note at the end of A Man Without a Country, Vonnegut explains that the illustrations which appear in the book are the result of a relationship he had developed with a Kentucky artist named Joe Petro III, whom Vonnegut says “saved [his] life” (143). Petro produces silk screen prints of line drawings and other artwork made by Vonnegut, and these works are sold by Origami Express, a partnership formed by the two men.
Kurt Vonnegut died on April 11, 2007 after sustaining brain injuries from a fall at his Manhattan home.
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Kurt Vonnegut Biography
TME and Dr. Gregory Sumner take a journey through the life and novels of Kurt Vonnegut on the 50th anniversary of Slaughterhouse-Five. Gregory Sumner guides us, with insight and passion, through the life of Kurt Vonnegut and his best known work. Based on Dr. Sumner's book Unstuck in Time: A Journey through Kurt Vonnegut's Life and Novels, we'll illustrate the quintessential American writer’s profound engagement with the "American Dream" in its various forms. Sumner gives us a poignant portrait of Vonnegut and his resistance to celebrating the traditional values associated with the American Dream: grandiose ambition, unbridled material success, rugged individualism, and "winners" over "losers." Instead of a celebration of these values, we read and share Vonnegut’s outrage, his brokenhearted empathy for those who struggle under the ethos of survival-of-the-fittest in the frontier mentality—something he once memorably described as "an impossibly tough-minded experiment in loneliness." Heroic and tragic, Vonnegut’s novels reflect the pain of his own life’s experiences, relieved by small acts of kindness, friendship, and love that exemplify another way of living, another sort of human utopia, an alternative American Dream, and the reason we always return to his books.

1. Dresden, Germany where Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was a POW who survived by getting into a meat locker, workers remove bomb debris in front of the ruins of the Frauenkirche in 1952.
2. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. next to Madelyn Pugh, headwriter of I Love Lucy, 'The Annual,' Shortridge High School Yearbook, 1938 at Shortridge High School student council meeting
3. 1940 Shortridge High School Yearbook - Uglyman contest - Kurt Vonnegut at bottom center.
4. Advertisement for book signing, Indianapolis News, May 1, 1969, accessed Newspapers.com

Background from {[https://blog.history.in.gov/tag/kurt-vonnegut-sr/]}
“A Satirist with a Heart, a Moralist with a Whoopee Cushion:” Kurt Vonnegut in Indiana
Indianapolis author and satirist Kurt Vonnegut Jr. would have turned 95 on November 11, 2017, just five years shy of his centennial. Few people on this earth have had a birthday of such significance; a World War veteran himself, Kurt was born on the 4th anniversary of Armistice Day. The writer who was once described as “a satirist with a heart, a moralist with a whoopee cushion,” was born into an incredibly prominent Indianapolis family. His great-grandfather, Clemens Vonnegut, founded Vonnegut Hardware Store and was a major civic leader. His grandfather and father were both prominent architects, responsible for the former All Souls Unitarian Church on Alabama Street, the Athenaeum, the clock at the corner of Washington and Meridian, and many more Indianapolis landmarks. (Visit the Vonnegut Library and pick up a copy of our Vonnegut Walking Tour pamphlets).
Kurt was raised in luxury at 4401 North Illinois Street, a house designed by his father Kurt Vonnegut Sr. in 1922. According to Indianapolis Monthly, “original details like a stained-glass window with the initials ‘KV’ and Rookwood tile in the dining room” still remain. Kurt Jr. spent summer vacations at Lake Maxinkuckee, located in Culver, Marshall County. The Vonnegut family owned a cottage at the lake, where, according to the Culver-Union Township Library, Hoosier author Meredith Nicholson conceived of the idea for his The House of a Thousand Candles.
Reportedly, Kurt noted in an Architectural Digest article:
“…I made my first mental maps of the world, when I was a little child in the summertime, on the shores of Lake Maxinkuckee, which is in northern Indiana, halfway between Chicago and Indianapolis, where we lived in the wintertime. Maxinkuckee is five miles long and two and a half miles across at its widest. Its shores are a closed loop. No matter where I was on its circumference, all I had to do was keep walking in one direction to find my way home again. What a confident Marco Polo I could be when setting out for a day’s adventures!”
Kurt’s parents lost a significant amount of money during the Great Depression, resulting in Kurt leaving his private gradeschool and attending James Whitcomb Riley School, named after the Hoosier poet. He received an excellent education at Shortridge High School in Indianapolis. Here, he badly played clarinet in the jazz band, served on the school newspaper and, upon graduation, was offered a job with the Indianapolis Times. His father and brother talked him out of accepting it, saying he would never make a living as a writer.
According to the Indiana Historical Society, “Along with instilling Vonnegut with a strong sense of ideals and pacifism, his time in Indianapolis’s schools started him on the path to a writing career. . . . His duties with the newspaper, then one of the few daily high school newspapers in the country, offered Vonnegut a unique opportunity to write for a large audience – his fellow students. It was an experience he described as being ‘fun and easy.’” Kurt noted, “‘that I could write better than a lot of other people. Each person has something he can do easily and can’t imagine why everybody else has so much trouble doing it.’ In his case that something was writing.” He also admired Indianapolis’s system of free libraries, many established by business magnate Andrew Carnegie.
Kurt ended up attending five total colleges, receiving zero degrees for the majority of his life, and ending up in World War II. It’s no coincidence that he spent his life writing about the unintended consequences of good intentions! Captured at the Battle of the Bulge and taken to Dresden, he survived the bombing that killed (by modern day estimates) 25,000 people, while held in a meat locker called Slaughterhouse-Five. He survived the war, though stricken with combat trauma, and returned here to marry his school sweetheart Jane Cox. After they moved to Chicago, he would not return to Indianapolis to live, although he visited with some frequency. Suffice it to say, the Hoosier city was where he learned the arts and humanities and loved his family dearly. It was a place of tragedy as well, as his family had lost their wealth and his mother committed suicide on Mother’s Day Eve in 1944. He had to move on.
Kurt spent the next twenty-four years writing what many would call one of the most significant novels of the 20th century, Slaughterhouse-Five. The semi-autobiographical satire of his experiences during World War II was released at the height of the anti-Vietnam War movement. With this novel, Kurt became quite famous, at the age of 46. His books, short stories, essays, and artwork have provided comfort to those who have grown weary of a world of war and poverty.
Kurt’s work affected me profoundly, first reading Breakfast of Champions as an undergraduate. I continued to read Kurt Vonnegut constantly, throughout life’s trials and triumphs, always finding very coherent and succinct sentences that seemed to address exactly how I was feeling about the world at the moment. As an individual growing up in Indiana, I loved how my home state featured as a character in nearly all of his work, from the beautiful, heart wrenching final scene in the novel The Sirens of Titan, to the hilarious airplane conversation in Cat’s Cradle, to the economically downtrodden fictional town of Rosewater, Indiana in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, to the planet Tralfamadore from Slaughterhouse-Five (I personally think he took it from Trafalgar, Indiana. While I have no proof, his father did spent the last two years of his life living in Brown County, not very far away)!
So it was the honor of a lifetime in 2011 to join the staff of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library in downtown Indianapolis. Throughout the years we have tirelessly drawn attention to issues Kurt Vonnegut cared about, the struggle against censorship, the war on poverty, the desire to live in a more peaceful and humane world, campaigning to help veterans heal from the wounds of war through the arts and humanities. These pursuits are inspired by a man who wrote about these issues for eighty-four years, until a fall outside his Manhattan brownstone “scrambled his precious egg,” as his son Mark Vonnegut described it. To me, Kurt Vonnegut is not gone, he is alive in the minds of our visitors, who themselves all have interesting stories about how they came to the work of Mr. Vonnegut, or are simply curious to learn more. Time being flexible is an idea Kurt himself seemed to espouse in his novel Slaughterhouse-Five:
The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just the way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.
In 2017, the Year of Vonnegut, we focused on the issue of Common Decency. Our 2018 programming will focus on the theme Lonesome No More, which we took from Kurt’s criminally underrated 1976 novel Slapstick, in which he runs for President under that slogan, in attempt to defeat the disease of loneliness. We’re going to give it our best shot, I humbly request that you join us!
Edited and co-researched by Nicole Poletika, Research & Digital Content Editor at the Indiana Historical Bureau.

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The Bombing of Dresden in World War II & Slaughterhouse-Five: Kurt Vonnegut (1997)
Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death (1969) is a satirical novel by Kurt Vonnegut about World War II experiences and journeys through time of a soldier named Billy Pilgrim.

1. Kurt Vonnegut mural in Indianapolis, courtesy of Flickr,
2. Kurt’s childhood home in Indianapolis at 44th and Illinois streets, courtesy of Century 21 Sheetz
3. Kurt Vonnegut with his second wife Jill Krementz
4. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. in Army uniform

Background from {[https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/s/slaughterhousefive/kurt-vonnegut-biography]}
Kurt Vonnegut Biography
Some of Kurt Vonnegut's critics have called him a skeptic, a pessimist, a fatalist, a malcontent — everything from a cynic to a worrywart — for his seemingly depressive view of civilization. Others have more accurately described him as a cultural scientist, a prophetic environmentalist offering humankind a glimmer of hope. Throughout much of Vonnegut's writing, one theme resounds again and again: Like the toll of a funeral bell, he warns civilization that time on Earth is running out. In a number of his lectures and autobiographical works, he counsels that one day soon, we will all go "belly-up like guppies in a neglected fishbowl." Suggesting an epitaph for our planet, he offers, "We could have saved it, but we were too darn cheap and lazy."
One of the things that shape Vonnegut's perception of civilization is the academic training he received while earning a master's degree in anthropology from the University of Chicago. He contends that because anthropology teaches students to seek explanations for humans' comfort and discomfort in culture, society, and history, his villains are never mere individuals: Instead, they are the culture, the society, and the history studied by anthropologists. In Hocus Pocus, for example, he says that the primary character, excluding himself, is imperialism.
The son and grandson of architects, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., was born on November 11, 1922, in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Vonneguts, a family of German descent, held beliefs of pacifism and atheism — beliefs that figure prominently in Vonnegut's works. Educated in Indianapolis, his journalistic endeavors began as a reporter for his high-school newspaper and continued after he entered Cornell University in 1940 as a chemistry major, writing for the student newspaper.
The bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 changed Vonnegut's life. Despite his feelings of pacifism, he volunteered for military service. He was trained to operate a 240-millimeter howitzer, but because he had some university academic credit, and because he had been in the Reserve Officers Training Corps, the army sent him back to college at Carnegie Tech as part of the Army Specialized Training Program. When the army needed manpower for the invasion of Europe, he was sent to the infantry.
In the 106th Infantry Division, assigned to defend a 75-mile stretch of the Luxembourg-Germany border, he was made a battalion intelligence scout, requiring him to sneak out ahead of Allied lines and observe the enemy.
In the winter of 1944, the Germans began their last, major military offensive of the war: the Battle of the Bulge. Vonnegut's unit was unprepared for combat and was quickly overrun by the German army. Vonnegut was captured and placed in a work camp in Dresden, Germany. Along with 99 other American prisoners, he worked in a factory making a vitamin-enriched malt syrup for pregnant women.
The bombing of Dresden, which began on February 13, 1945, destroyed much of the city — hospitals, schools, churches, nursing homes, and apartment buildings. Up to 135,000 inhabitants were killed. After the air raid, Vonnegut was put on detail to remove and cremate the corpses that rotted throughout the city. Thousands of human carcasses were incinerated on huge funeral pyres or with flamethrowers. Vonnegut's perception of this horrific misery was amplified further during the days of his liberation. Confined in the Russian zone, he spent time with Nazi concentration camp survivors from Eastern Europe — particularly, from Auschwitz and from Birkenau — listening to these survivors' gruesome stories of the Holocaust.
After the war, he returned to Indianapolis and married his childhood sweetheart, Jane Cox, whom he had met in kindergarten. He entered the University of Chicago as a graduate student in anthropology, and in 1947, he accepted a public relations job with General Electric. Three years later, he quit his job to devote full time to writing. In 1952, he published his first novel, Player Piano, a work based somewhat on his experiences in the corporate environment.
Player Piano, like Vonnegut's next two novels, The Sirens of Titan (1959) and Mother Night (1961), met with little success. His fourth novel, Cat's Cradle (1963), became a cult favorite of the counterculture, and he acquired an underground reputation; the novel was especially revered on college campuses in the 1960s. Vonnegut followed this work with an assortment of reviews, essays, and speeches compiled in Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons (1965), as well as the darkly comic God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1965), and then returned to writing fiction with Slaughterhouse-Five. Published in 1969, during the war in Vietnam, it received critical acclaim and became a bestseller. Vonnegut's use of the massive, unrelenting Allied firebombing of Dresden in World War II as the pivotal image of the novel was a natural analogy to the United States' bombing of North Vietnam "back to the Stone Age."
Having made his reputation as a novelist, Vonnegut turned to the theater in 1970, with Happy Birthday, Wanda June, a revised version of a play he had written years before under the title Penelope. The play ran for 142 performances off-Broadway and was moderately successful with critics. In 1972, he wrote a play for the National Television Network, Between Time and Timbuktu, or Prometheus-5. This endeavor was not so much a new work as a series of scenes from his novels and plays, strung together with a connecting plot. Also, Welcome to the Monkey House, a collection of his short stories that included some published earlier in Canary in a Cathouse, was issued in 1970.
Vonnegut's next novel — which he claimed would be his last — was published in 1973. Breakfast of Champions is a recapitulation of the major themes of Vonnegut's earlier works and is a farewell to his characters, whom he frees in the epilogue. The book met with a great deal of critical and popular acclaim. In 1976, he published Slapstick, which opens with his confession that the book will be his closest attempt yet at autobiography. Couched as a fictional story about Dr. Wilbur Daffodil-11 Swain, the final president of the United States, and his twin sister, Eliza, the novel is a tribute to Vonnegut's sister, Alice Vonnegut, who died of cancer at 41.
Most readers were probably not surprised when Kilgore Trout reappeared in Vonnegut's next work of fiction, Jailbird (1979). The novel begins with this admission: "Yes — Kilgore Trout is back again. He could not make it on the outside. That is no disgrace. A lot of good people can't make it on the outside." We get the feeling that Vonnegut is speaking more about himself than about Kilgore Trout. Like much of his work, Jailbird is a social commentary. In it, Walter F. Starbuck, a former official in President Richard M. Nixon's administration, is released from prison following a conviction in the Watergate conspiracy. Events following Starbuck's release culminate in his being hired by a titanic corporation that effectively controls over one-quarter of the U.S. economy. Vonnegut uses Starbuck's being hired by this industrial giant to point out the corruptness of U.S. industry, how there is no rhyme or reason for the decisions that are made daily by huge corporations. People become slaves to technology, and industry's main concern is increasing profit at workers' expense.
Vonnegut followed up Jailbird with Palm Sunday (1981), which he subtitled An Autobiographical Collage. In this work, he plays with different forms of writing, mixing together such different genres as speeches, letters, articles, and even a musical comedy. Always willing to push the limits of traditional forms of writing, Palm Sunday is one of Vonnegut's boldest attempts at experimental writing.
Over the next six years, Vonnegut published three novels, all of which deal with a son's relationship with his father, a relationship that is usually dysfunctional. In Deadeye Dick (1982), Rudy Waltz recounts growing up in Midland City, Ohio, with a father who is more interested in gun collecting than in having a meaningful relationship with his family. The title of the novel comes from people nicknaming Rudy "Deadeye Dick" after he accidentally shoots and kills a pregnant woman while playing with one of his father's guns.
Galapagos (1985), Vonnegut's next novel, is narrated by Leon Trout, Kilgore Trout's son, who is as bitter about life as his father was. Vonnegut addresses the problems of human greed and damaging technological advancements. The setting for the book is the islands of Galapagos, where Charles Darwin studied the animal life and then wrote Origin of Species, outlining his theory of evolution. Leon Trout's ghost, which has survived from the year 1986 to the year 1 million A.D., recounts the many mistakes humans have made in bringing about our planet's demise.
In Bluebeard (1987), Vonnegut's main character, Rabo Karabekian, has a bad family life, but he is able to overcome the alienation felt by so many of Vonnegut's characters. As an artist, he immerses himself in his art and in the paintings of great modern artists. He discovers that there is a world inside himself that is nurturing and nondestructive. Through his art, Rabo recreates his life and affirms his self-worth.
In the 1990s, Vonnegut published four major works, Hocus Pocus (1990), Fates Worse Than Death: An Autobiographical Collage of the 1980s (1991), Timequake (1997), and Bagombo Snuff Box (1999). Hocus Pocus is a fictional work concerning Eugene Debs Hartke, who is fired from Tarkington College in New York and then hired by the New York State Maximum Security Adult Correctional Institution, which is directly across a lake from the college. When the prisoners at the correctional facility escape, they hold hostages at the college, and Hartke is eventually made warden at the college, renamed the Tarkington State Reformatory.
Fates Worse Than Death is similar to Palm Sunday in that it contains various speeches, essays, and autobiographical commentary addressing Vonnegut's opinions on a broad range of issues. Vonnegut characterizes the work as "a sequel, not that anyone has clamored for one, to a book called Palm Sunday."
Timequake was Vonnegut's final novel, and it touched on many of the underlying themes that were apparent in Slaughterhouse-Five, such as determinism and having to live with one's past decisions. The title Timequake refers to a "hiccup" in the space-time continuum, causing the people of the year 2001 to be thrust back in time to the year 1991. Kilgore Trout returns once again to narrate as everyone is forced to relive the past 10 years, able to think freely but unable to change anything, thus reliving every bad choice, misstep, and painful moment over again.
Bagombo Snuff Box is a compilation of previously uncollected short fiction, some of the stories dating back to his earliest days of selling short stories to magazines, and was his last major publication.
In 1999, Vonnegut published God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian, a collection of 21 brief flights of fancy that were originally read as 90-second "interludes" on Manhattan's public radio station, WNYC. Each interlude consists of Vonnegut interviewing dead individuals in heaven, with the help of famed assisted-suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian.
As the century turned and Kurt Vonnegut waded into his ninth decade, his writing took a more political turn. In A Man Without a Country (2005), subtitled "A Memoir Of Life In George W Bush's America," Vonnegut explores life, love, and politics, most often from his characteristic humanistic perspective. He claimed (as he had done with other books in the past) that this would be the last book he would publish. It turned out to be true this time: Kurt Vonnegut died on April 11, 2007, weeks after suffering a fall in his home that caused irreversible brain damage.
As with most great writers, after his death, his heirs continued to find and collect more of his writings, some of which had been previously published in periodicals, and some that had never been seen by the public at large. Two posthumous collections have been published since Vonnegut's death. Armageddon in Retrospect (2008), with an introduction by his son Mark, is a collection of essays and stories about war and peace. Look at the Birdie (2009) is a collection of previously unpublished short fiction.
Throughout his life, Kurt Vonnegut, known for his self-deprecating style, continued to ridicule his own work while at the same time staking out a claim as one of the preeminent American writers since World War II. In a 1996 interview, in which he promoted the cinematic release of Mother Night, he claimed that his best work had been published prior to his reaching the age of 55. Commenting on his increased popularity in the late 1990s, he said, "My life is essentially a garage sale now."

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LTC Stephen F. - Thank you so much for sharing this article!
PVT Mark Zehner
A brilliant writer! I enjoyed many of his writings!
SSG Samuel Kermon
Did not know about his WW2 service. Thank you for this article.

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