"I very much appreciated your thoughtful and obviously personal farewell article to Kurt Vonnegut (Cover, “Kurt Vonnegut: The Exit Interview,” April 18-25). While basically a brush with greatness, I did meet and spend some time talking with Mr. Vonnegut back in 1968 at a party given to celebrate his newest novel. My friend’s parents had graduated in Kurt’s Shortridge HS class. They lived in a modern, multilevel Northside Indy home. Very artsy family; actors and photographers and artists (oh my).
Kurt sat in a throne-like rattan chair tucked in a second floor nook; impish, aloof, yet kindly accessible. I gathered the courage to approach him, wanting to lay open my soul and thank him for the impact Mother Night and Player Piano made upon this freshman English major. How he was my Salinger come alive. How his writing style gave hope to my writer’s dreams.
Instead, I geeked a nervous hello and told him, in stiff prep school mannered tone, how much I enjoyed his work. His hair was still black, a curling outline to his probing eyes. He looked at me, smiled and asked my age. When I answered, “18, Mr. Vonnegut,” he chortled and said, “You’re old enough to fight and die for your country. Being 18 lets you call me Kurt.”
Interesting exchange to begin a few minutes with a literary hero. He became even more so after being in his presence.
Thank you for so eloquently sharing your memories with readers. I’m sure Kurt would be impressed with your words.