Monday, May 20, 2024

Flashback: Kurt Vonnegut Would Have Turned 98 Today. Here’s the Interview We Did for His 80th


I interviewed Kurt Vonnegut for his 80th birthday in 2002. His wife, photographer Jill Krementz, helped put it together. I miss Kurt a lot (and so many others). Here’s the piece.



It was perhaps no mere coincidence in the grand scheme of the universe that the birthday of the great writer Kurt Vonnegut falls on Veterans’ Day.

Vonnegut, who becomes an octogenarian Monday, lived through the firebombing of Dresden, Germany, as an American prisoner of war in 1945. This seminal event became not only the basis of his classic novel Slaughterhouse-Five, but became the theme of his extensive anti-war writings.

Vonnegut has lived in New York and been highly visible for over 25 years. In some ways, I think that it may have hurt him.

The New York literati take him for granted. He still lacks some major awards, all of which he deserves. In the meantime, here is our reward for having Vonnegut in our midst: I spoke with him yesterday by phone from Los Angeles.

RF: I’ve been thinking about you since the talk of war has heated up recently.

KV: What happens on the ground is never spoken of, the number of people we kill with our unmanned kamikazes. The hawks would like to say we’re cowards, and can’t take casualties and all that, but it’s the inflicting of casualties that’s horrifying.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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