10 Ways to Honor Kurt Vonnegut on his Birthday

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Happy birthday, Kurt Vonnegut. Your dark, brooding irony and complex story structures have led the world of books in a more creative direction. For those Kurt Vonnegut fans out there, it’s important not to let Vonnegut be forgotten. Get out there and honor this man:

    1. Have you read Slaughter House Five? Cat’s Cradle? Do you remember them? The first thing that anyone should do is to dive back in and fall back into his pattern of approachable sentences with palpable humor and darkness: “All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true…”–That’s the first line from Slaughterhouse-Five.
    2. Check out the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library in Indianapolis. Here you can see his typewriter, his Purple Heart Award, doodles and rejection letters.
    3. Avoid television and read instead, unless you want to watch Cheers, because Kurt thought television was a rough path for entertainment, though he was a fan of the sitcom– all of this is  according to Mental Floss.
    4. Read other writers who are commonly compared to Kurt Vonnegut in style and imagination, like Octavia Butler and Haruki Murakami (as discussed here by the NYPL). Here’s a great list of where to start in Science Fiction and Fantasy short stories if you want to go broad.
    5. Go out and read the writers who were greatly influenced by Vonnegut, like those noted by the Washington Post in 2007 when Kurt Vonnegut passed away. These include Jess Walter and John Irving.
    6. If you’re inspired to write because of Vonnegut’s books yourself, test out Vonnegut’s 8 Basics of Creative Writing, posted here by Gotham Writers. Better yet, join a group that features classes like Gotham Writers.
    7. Get to know him better by reading this interview with his good friend, Dan Wakefield, who can add personal commentary few can. Notice, Wakefield introduced Vonnegut’s collection of speeches too.
    8. Check out how his wife, Jane Vonnegut, influenced and encouraged his work according to The New Yorker. Such an awesome story of support and eventual sadness.
    9. Read this amazingly comprehensive interview with Vonnegut in The Paris Review and compiled over a decade. So much is here–there’s just so much.
    10. Watch the man himself discuss the shape of stories in this video lecture intended for writers. His humor is infectious here.