Kurt Vonnegut on the Shape of Stories (& Why He’s My Favorite Writer)

Kurt Vonnegut could bend words like no one else and create satire that deconstructed complicated themes into relatable, entertaining stories. In other words: He made fun of us. All of us. And millions loved him for it. I am one of those millions. (You may remember I’ve mentioned this before.)

At the suggestion of a lovely high school English teacher named Mr. Acito, I read Slaughterhouse-Five. I was young, dumb and writing embarrassing bad poetry that sounded less like a passionate rhythmic sonnet and more like lyrics to the B side of a Whitesnake album. It only took a few chapters of Slaughterhouse-Five to open my eyes to a new way of thinking, of writing. That year I read every other Vonnegut book I could get my hands on. My view of the world (and my writing) was forever changed.

One of my favorite videos of Mr. Vonnegut came across my Facebook feed this morning (thanks to my writerly friend @JoeLRobb). It really boils down stories to their three forms. And he explains it in his usual humorous way. Worth a watch.

Here are few other Vonnegut goodies:


And finally, I’ll leave you with my favorite Vonnegut passage of all time:

“Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Have you ever seen bugs trapped in amber? . . . Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.”


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2 thoughts on “Kurt Vonnegut on the Shape of Stories (& Why He’s My Favorite Writer)

  1. Pat Pechon

    I knew I liked you for a reason (. Besides that once upon a time you lived in Chicago. )
    Another Vonnegut fan!!!!!
    He looked at things, what I call sideways. Not straight on, just tilt your head to one side and have a whole different perspective.
    Great video.


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