April 11th marked the first anniversary of the death of Kurt Vonnegut. His death marked the end of something significant in American culture and maybe in our collective consciousness.
Vonnegut was a literary and cultural icon and when he died, television, newspapers, magazines and the internet carried tributes for days.
Bill Henderson was a student of Vonnegut’s at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Bill is a novelist, screenwriter, coach, editor, musician and teacher and he blogs at TrueVoice. I found out that he’d been a student of Vonnegut’s through a post he did about the publishing business. I found this especially funny:
“I remember years ago, in college, complaining to my teacher, Kurt Vonnegut, that I had no connections, so how the hell was I ever going to get published?
Ironically, I didn't consider Vonnegut a connection; his apotheosis and transformation into an icon of popular literary fiction hadn't happened yet.
"The thing is," he said, pausing before adding a second "is" (Vonnegut was the first person I ever heard do that) "...is that if your story's good enough, you won't need connections."
I was dumbfounded. How could he say that? Didn't I know full well, at age 22, how the world really worked? Contacts were everything.”
There were a lot of interviews and movie cameos in Vonnegut’s later years that seemed to have morphed him into a caricature of himself. Bill has written a wonderful reminiscence about the Kurt Vonnegut that he knew. If you were a Vonnegut admirer, I hope you'll check it out.
The embedded video recalls a Vonnegut that is most like the one Bill remembers.
Bill's piece reveals the Vonnegut that I’d like to remember.