As I finish up Slaughterhouse-Five and prepare to review it, I read a fantastic interview with Kurt Vonnegut via The Paris Review. The interview is from the 70's and details, among other things, Vonnegut's experience in WWII and what prompted him to write about it with the viewpoint that he did, an experience that he relates at the start of Slaughterhouse-Five:
I would try to write my war story, whether it was interesting or not, and try to make something out of it. I describe that process a little in the beginning ofSlaughterhouse Five; I saw it as starring John Wayne and Frank Sinatra. Finally, a girl called Mary O’Hare, the wife of a friend of mine who’d been there with me, said, “You were just children then. It’s not fair to pretend that you were men like Wayne and Sinatra, and it’s not fair to future generations, because you’re going to make war look good.” That was a very important clue to me. She freed me to write about what infants we really were: seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one. We were baby-faced, and as a prisoner of war I don’t think I had to shave very often. I don’t recall that that was a problem.Vonnegut also recalls the importance of diversity among authors, namely a diversity of background - that not every author should hold an English literature graduate degree:
I think it can be tremendously refreshing if a creator of literature has something on his mind other than the history of literature so far. Literature should not disappear up its own asshole, so to speak.If you get a chance I suggest you read the interview in its entirety. He explains what he believes to be the theory of writing a good story and what exactly makes a good writer. Vonnegut is truly captivating in a nonchalant, pessimistic kind of way.
April 11th marks the 4 year anniversary of Kurt Vonnegut's death. So it goes.