Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (; November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) was an American writer. In a career spanning over 50 years, Vonnegut published fourteen novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five works of nonfiction, with further collections being published after his death. He is most famous for his darkly satirical, bestselling novel Slaughterhouse-Five (1969).Born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, Vonnegut attended Cornell University but withdrew in January 1943 and enlisted in the United States Army. As part of his training, he studied mechanical engineering at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) and the University of Tennessee. He was then deployed to Europe to fight in World War II and was captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. He was interned in Dresden and survived the Allied bombing of the city in a meat locker of the slaughterhouse where he was imprisoned. After the war, Vonnegut married Jane Marie Cox, with whom he had three children. He adopted his sister's sons after she died of cancer and her husband was killed in a train accident. Vonnegut and his wife both attended the University of Chicago, while he worked as a night reporter for the City News Bureau.Vonnegut published his first novel, Player Piano, in 1952. The novel was reviewed positively but was not commercially successful at the time. In the nearly 20 years that followed, Vonnegut published several novels that were well regarded, two of which (The Sirens of Titan  and Cat's Cradle ) were nominated for the Hugo Award for best novel. He published a short story collection titled Welcome to the Monkey House in 1968. Vonnegut's breakthrough was his commercially and critically successful sixth novel, Slaughterhouse-Five. The book's anti-war sentiment resonated with its readers amidst the ongoing Vietnam War and its reviews were generally positive. After its release, Slaughterhouse-Five went to the top of The New York Times Best Seller list, thrusting Vonnegut into fame. He was invited to give speeches, lectures and commencement addresses around the country and received many awards and honors.Later in his career, Vonnegut published several autobiographical essays and short-story collections, including Fates Worse Than Death (1991), and A Man Without a Country (2005). After his death, he was hailed as a black-humor commentator on the society in which he lived and as one of the most important contemporary writers. Vonnegut's son Mark published a compilation of his father's unpublished compositions, titled Armageddon in Retrospect. In 2017, Seven Stories Press published Complete Stories, a collection of Vonnegut's short fiction including five previously unpublished stories. Complete Stories was collected and introduced by Vonnegut friends and scholars Jerome Klinkowitz and Dan Wakefield. Numerous scholarly works have examined Vonnegut's writing and humor.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was born on November 11, 1922, in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was the youngest of three children of Kurt Vonnegut Sr. and his wife Edith (born Lieber). His older siblings were Bernard (born 1914) and Alice (born 1917). Vonnegut was descended from German immigrants who settled in the United States in the mid-19th century; his patrilineal great-grandfather, Clemens Vonnegut of Westphalia, Germany, settled in Indianapolis and founded the Vonnegut Hardware Company. Kurt's father, and his father before him, Bernard, were architects; the architecture firm under Kurt Sr. designed such buildings as Das Deutsche Haus (now called "The Athenæum"), the Indiana headquarters of the Bell Telephone Company, and the Fletcher Trust Building. Vonnegut's mother was born into Indianapolis high society, as her family, the Liebers, were among the wealthiest in the city, their fortune derived from ownership of a successful brewery.Both of Vonnegut's parents were fluent German speakers, but the ill feeling toward Germany during and after World War I caused them to abandon German culture in order to show their American patriotism. Thus, they did not teach their youngest son German, or introduce him to German literature and traditions, leaving him feeling "ignorant and rootless." Vonnegut later credited Ida Young, his family's African-American cook and housekeeper for the first 10 years of his life, for raising him and giving him values: she "gave me decent moral instruction and was exceedingly nice to me. So she was as great an influence on me as anybody." Vonnegut described Young as "humane and wise", adding that "the compassionate, forgiving aspects of [his] beliefs" came from her.The financial security and social prosperity that the Vonneguts had once enjoyed were destroyed in a matter of years. The Liebers' brewery was closed in 1921 after the advent of Prohibition in the United States. When the Great Depression hit, few people could afford to build, causing clients at Kurt Sr.'s architectural firm to become scarce. Vonnegut's brother and sister had finished their primary and secondary educations in private schools, but Vonnegut was placed in a public school, called Public School No. 43, now known as the James Whitcomb Riley School. He was bothered by the Great Depression; both his parents were affected deeply by their economic misfortune. His father withdrew from normal life and became what Vonnegut called a "dreamy artist". His mother became depressed, withdrawn, bitter, and abusive. She labored to regain the family's wealth and status, and Vonnegut said that she expressed hatred "as corrosive as hydrochloric acid" for her husband. Edith Vonnegut tried to sell short stories to Collier's, The Saturday Evening Post, and other magazines, with no success.
Movies & TV shows
2BR02B: To Be or Naught to Be
In the year 2204, the Earth has become a dystopian wasteland. In order to maintain strict population levels, any newborn is only permitted to live if another person's life is traded in and a receipt i...
Nelson Algren: The End Is Nothing, the Road Is All...
An in-depth feature length documentary of one of America's greatest and least understood authors, Nelson Algren. This never before told compelling life story reveals a unique literary voice through ra...
Kurt Vonnegut’s Indianapolis: A Writer’s Roots
He was one of the best-selling authors of the 20th Century. His books became movies. His writings became music. He became an icon. He was Kurt Vonnegut. First, though, he was just a kid from Indianapo...
2081 depicts a dystopian future in which, thanks to the 212th Amendment to the Constitution and the unceasing vigilance of the United States Handicapper General, everyone is "finally equal...." The st...
Michael Moore's Sicko is about making money even if it means losing people's lives. If people don't have health insurance, health care providers will make more money.
Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist
Will Eisner, the most influential person in American comics, had a career that encompassed comic books from their early beginnings in the 1930s to their development as graphic novels in the 1990s. Eis...
Rico reunites with his ex-wife after serving a five year prison term for armed robbery. Upon Rico's release he encounters old and new forces conspiring to bring him down and tear him between what he h...
The year was 2081 and everybody was finally equal. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger than anybody else, quicker than anybody else. ...
Breakfast of Champions
A portrait of a fictional town in the mid west that is home to a group of eccentric and slightly neurotic characters. A wealthy car dealer-ship owner that is on the verge of suicide is losing touch wi...
1 Movie · 1 TV show
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
The biggest stories in news, politics and pop culture are tackled by The World's Fakest News Team.
An American spy behind the lines during WWII is a Nazi propagandist, a role he cannot escape in his future life, as he can never reveal his real role in the war.
All men are not the same. The premise of the film is that the government is trying to make them. The film centers around a young man who is smarter than his peers, and is not affected by the usual "Ha...
The Painted Boy
"Malowany chlopiec" - The first major mystification of the Holocaust was the novel "The Painted Bird" by Polish Emigrant Jerzy Kosinski, who in his book describes himself as an abandoned child who bec...
1 TV show
Back to School
Melon Thornton enrolls at his son's college when he decides to get a better education. Thornton is trying to fit in with his fellow students as he tries to gain his son's respect.
Who Am I This Time?
Kurt Vonnegut wrote a short story. A hardware store employee is Christopher Walken. When he plays in an amateur theater production, he becomes the part on stage. Susan Sarandon is employed by a teleph...
Slapstick (Of Another Kind)
Two alien twins who are the smartest kids on the planet were born to a rich and beautiful couple.
Today it's a symbol of strength and vitality. 135 years ago, it was a source of controversy. This documentary examines the great problems and ingenious solutions that marked the construction of the Br...
Deer in the Works
David Potter is the owner of a weekly newspaper. He applied to be a publicity writer at the Ilium Works despite his wife's disapproval. He accepted the position despite seeing how the company plans ou...
A three episode film. A woman puts an advertisement in the newspaper and receives an answer from someone called Hans-Eerik. They begin to correspond and even set up a date for marriage. The woman wait...
Rex Harrison Presents Stories of Love
Pilot for a proposed television anthology series with stories about love, either dramatic or comedic. In this pilot, there were three different segments: in the first, a computer falls in love with it...
Between Time and Timbuktu
The area of space is called the Chronosynclastic Infundibulum. Each of the infinite copies of himself finds himself in strange situations. Cat's Cradle, Welcome to the Monkey House, and Happy Birthday...
Billy Pilgrim was kidnapped by aliens and stuck in time.
1 TV show
General Electric Theater
Ronald Reagan hosted General Electric Theater, which was broadcast on CBS radio and television. General Electric's Department of Public Relations sponsored the series.
1 Movie · 1 TV show