The last time I was ready to set out for Indianapolis on a literary pilgrimage, I’d charted a course to my alma mater, Butler University, to see one of my favorite writers of all time speak—Kurt Vonnegut Jr. After a brief Indiana sighting and a failed attempt to catch him at the ACLU’s annual event a few years earlier, I had wrangled a ticket, and everything was set—except Mr. Vonnegut passed away a few short weeks before the speech in 2007.
And thus I found myself on another voyage Saturday, visions of Bokonon and Tralfamadorians dancing in my head, driving back to the author's Indianapolis hometown for the grand opening of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library.
Located downtown at 340 N. Senate Ave., the intimate nonprofit features an array of Vonnegut's history and personal effects. On display: His typewriter. His purple heart. Numerous photos. His art. His legendary Pall Malls. His reading glasses. Everything is also supplemented by a smattering of moments from Vonnegut’s life, including a vast wall-spanning time line. (And of course, there’s a gift shop area offering everything from books to mousepads to bags to mugs to hats.)
Look for more on the library in the May/June issue of Writer’s Digest, and hopefully something special on Vonnegut’s writing (pending the results of a phone call I’m about to make). And better yet, if you want to drop by the library in person, it’s free and open 12-5 p.m. every day except Wednesday.
Here's to you, Mr. Vonnegut. A Vonnegut-infused Promptly prompt series follows.
WRITING PROMPT: Literary Roadshow, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Edition
Literary Roadshow: Will one author’s stray sentences be another’s writing exercise gold? Feel
free to take the following prompts home or post a
response (500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments
section below. By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our
occasional around-the-office swag drawings. If you’re having trouble
with the captcha code sticking, e-mail your piece and the prompt to me
at email@example.com, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and
I’ll make sure it gets up.
Write a story inspired
by or including any of the following (from Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions):
1. “On judgment day, when they ask me what bad things I did down here, I’m going to have to tell them, ‘Well, there was a promise I made to a man I loved, and I broke it all the time.’ ”
2. “I’m going to ask you to do something I have never asked you to do before. Promise me you’ll say yes.”
“I promise,” she said.
3. The fan letter came much too late. It wasn’t good news.