Talking Vonnegut

Centennial Interviews and Essays


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About the Book

This collection of 29 interviews explores the outer reaches of the Kurt Vonnegut universe. Conversations reveal how Robert B. Weide’s letter to Kurt led to a long friendship and an acclaimed documentary, how readers in the former Soviet Union fell in love with Vonnegut during the Cold War, how Ryan North and Albert Monteys adapted Slaughterhouse-Five into a graphic novel, how two podcasters introduced him to a new generation of readers, and how Vonnegut’s time teaching at the Iowa Writers Workshop helped transform him from an unknown paperback writer into a literary superstar.
Also included are eight essays by the author. These cover Vonnegut’s thoughts on guns and loneliness, evaluate his posthumous publications, offer a guide to the best Vonnegut videos available online, and ask questions like “Was Kurt Vonnegut secretly a romance writer?” A resource for students, scholars and fans, this book offers windows into Vonnegut’s life and art that are often overlooked in standard biographies.

About the Author(s)

Chuck Augello is the founder of The Daily Vonnegut, a website exploring the life and art of Kurt Vonnegut. He is the author of two novels and his work has appeared in One Story, Necessary Fiction and Literary Hub. He lives in New Jersey.

Bibliographic Details

Chuck Augello
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 252
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9070-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4960-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v
Introduction: Adventures in the Vonnegutsphere: Or, How I Came to Create The Daily Vonnegut 1
Beginnings and Endings
Kurt Vonnegut: The Pop Quiz 7
The Brothers Vonnegut: An Interview with Ginger Strand 14
Love, Kurt—The Vonnegut Love Letters: An Interview with Edith Vonnegut 18
Kurt Vonnegut’s Last Interview: An Interview with Heather Augustyn 22
Kurt Vonnegut Remembered: An Interview with Jim O’Loughlin 27
One Thief Was Saved: An Interview with Jerome Klinkowitz 31
Posthumous Vonnegut 33
The Classroom
Lessons from the Monkey House 45
Pity the Reader: An Interview with Suzanne McConnell 50
A Delicate Aggression—Kurt Vonnegut at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop: An Interview with David O. Dowling 62
Teaching “Harrison Bergeron”: An Interview with Benjamin Reed 70
Waking People Up to the Prophetic Voice of Kurt Vonnegut: An Interview with Steve Almond 77
Building the Monkey House: An Interview with Gregory Sumner 86
Kurt Vonnegut, Romance Writer 90
Planetary Citizen
Lonesome No More: Kurt Vonnegut’s Sunny Little Dream 101
American Fascism: An Interview with Susan Farrell 105
Tilting the Axis: An Interview with Christina Jarvis 108
Vonnegut as Cultural Guide—Kurt Vonnegut in the Soviet Union: An Interview with Sarah D. Phillips 114
The Writer’s Crusade: An Interview with Tom Roston 121
Recreating the Same Old Nightmare: An Interview with Josh Privett 127
Germs of Some Loathsome Disease: Kurt Vonnegut on Guns 132
New Adventures in Scholarship
The Vonnegutians 137
Breaking Down Vonnegut: An Interview with Julia Whitehead 141
An Overwhelming Treasure Trove: An Interview with Isabel Planton 148
The Vonnegut Encyclopedia: An Interview with Marc Leeds 151
Vonnegut and Hemingway: An Interview with Lawrence R. Broer 155
A Landmark for Common Decency 165
Beyond the Page
Kurt Vonnegut: YouTuber 171
Forever Altering Perceptions of Life: An Interview with Ryan North and Albert Monteys 176
Staging Happy Birthday, Wanda June: An Interview with Jeff Wise and Matt Harrington 181
Firing the Flare Gun and Shouting “Read it again!” An Interview with Alex Schmidt and Michael Swaim 186
Two Guys from the Same Family: An Interview with Robert Weide 194
Bringing the Sirens to the Stage: An Interview with Ben Rock 201
Directing Mother Night: An Interview with Keith Gordon 211
And All Music Is Sacred: An Interview with Richard Auldon Clark 219
Talking Vonnegut 229
Bibliography 231
About the Contributors 233
Index 239

Book Reviews & Awards

• “What a book! All these facets make for a most complete portrait of Kurt Vonnegut.”—Jerome Klinkowitz, author of The Vonnegut Effect and Kurt Vonnegut’s America

• “Talking Vonnegut: Centennial Interviews and Essays may be anticipated by many as a scholarly discourse of literary import, but it’s far more than another analysis of the writer’s work. …interviewees each shed a unique light on Vonnegut and the lasting impact of his writings. The real meat of an interview collection lies in the types of questions that prompt extraordinary answers and reader reflections. Aguello fulfills that duty, crafting such conversations among an unusually widespread list of fans and fellow influencers. Readers even only casually familiar with the author and his works will come away with a deeper knowledge of Vonnegut’s influence and focuses. …followers come away from these personal queries with a far deeper appreciation of the extent and scholarship of Vonnegut’s writings and their world-wide impact. Libraries serious about representing the impact of Vonnegu’s craft should consider Talking Vonnegut a foundation acquisition central to both any semi-definitive or authoritative Vonnegut collection. It’s especially highly recommendable to students and readers of Vonnegut, who will receive key information and insights about the man and his work which are simply unavailable elsewhere.”—Midwest Book Review