Kurt Vonnegut Archive

SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE Revisited

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By way of introduction at readings, I often start with a poem about my hometown. “For those of you who don’t know me,” I say, “I’m from Schenectady, New York, and I think it is the greatest small city in the world.” I wait a beat before the punchline:

Big Picture, Small Picture: Context for Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five

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Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, published March 31, 1969, follows anti-hero Billy Pilgrim, inspired by Edward Crone Jr., as he survives the Battle of the Bulge, German internment, and the Dresden firebombing, finally settling into a comfortable life as an optometrist in upstate New York.

Writer & Artist: What We Can Learn from Writers Who are Both

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In many ways, visual art gave birth to literature. The first stories written down were cave paintings. For years our alphabet was made up of pictographs which simply meant that the only people who could tell stories were those who could draw.

Majestic Endings

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  As I closed in on the first draft of a novel, I wrote toward an ending I’d held in my mind for months. It was a quiet climax in keeping with the, ahem, literary nature of my novel. I knew that when I finished the draft, I’d have

The Candles and the Soap: On Vonnegut, Death, and Repetition

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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. Early on in the book, Billy Pilgrim writes a letter to a newspaper about his experiences with extra terrestrials, and explains the origin of the phrase: When

The Long Death Of Genre Distinction

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The latest lit dust-up over genre involved Kazuo Ishiguro and Ursula K. Le Guin. In a review of Ishiguro’s new book The Buried Giant, Le Guin took umbrage at some remarks he made to the New York Times. “Will readers follow me into this?” went Ishiguro’s offending comment. “Will they

A Knack for Names

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I once read (though the source is now lost to me) that the names of the characters in a novel do the work of telling the reader what world he’s in. Musicality, characterization, hints at a character’s gender, ethnicity, and social status—all of these are important in a name.

Ploughshares Fantasy Blog Draft Round 2 – The Mighty Duck Palahniuks vs The Holden Caulbabies

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After a fevered start to the competition, with spirited fights from each side, the competition slowed this last week as Buckle Your Corn Belts and Vonnegut to the Chopper! tortoised their way through the match-up. The teams ended at a stalemate, and we were forced to implement a tiebreaker:

Ploughshares Fantasy Blog Draft Round 1 – Leave it to Cheever vs The Mighty Duck Palahniuks

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Editor: Robert Silvers Fiction Writer: Donald Barthelme Philosopher: Iris Murdoch Nonfiction Writer: Marguerite Young Poet: Paul Carroll Ghostwriter: Emmanuel Bove Editor: George Plimpton Fiction Writer: Kurt Vonnegut Events Coverage: Emily Dickinson Nonfiction Writer: Werner Herzog Poet: Melissa Broder Health and Living Columnist: Hunter S. Thompson It’s Round 1 of

Fantasy Blog Draft – Round 2 – Fiction Writers

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Welcome to Round 2 of the Ploughshares Fantasy Blog Draft! As far as I, your humble commissioner, am concerned, this is when the draft really begins. The chosen editors have been shuffled into their imaginary Fantasy Blog Team locker rooms, behind the stage of Radio City Music Hall; the