Special Tribute to Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

While not a Horror writer, per se, Vonnegut used the real-life horror he witnessed during WW II as a theme for a number of his novels. Born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1922, Vonnegut attended Cornell University before enlisting in the United States Army in 1943. As an advance scout for the U.S. 106th Infantry Division during the Battle of the Bulge, he was cut off from his battalion and wandered alone behind enemy lines for several days before being captured by German soldiers on December 14, 1944.

As a prisoner of war, Vonnegut was one of only seven American prisoners to survive the Allied fire bombing of Dresden during February 13-15, 1945. He survived in an underground meat packing cellar known as 'Slaughter House Five.' After the bombing he was forced to collect the dead bodies of civilians for burial, but there were too many bodies to bury, so German troops used flame throwers to burn huge piles of bodies in the streets. This experience formed the core of his most famous work, "Slaughterhouse-Five," and is a theme in at least six of his other books.

Vonnegut blended satire, black comedy and science fiction in his works.

Player Piano, 1952, The Sirens of Titan, 1959, Mother Night, 1961, Cat's Cradle, 1963, Welcome to the Monkey House (a collection of short stories) 1968, Slaughterhouse-Five, 1969, Breakfast of Champions, 1973, Slapstick, 1976, Jailbird, 1979, Deadeye Dick, 1982, Bluebeard, 1987 and many others.

Vonnegut also wrote 8 rules for writing a short story, just a few of which are listed here.

Use the time of a total stranger (the reader) in such a way that he or she will not feel their time was wasted.

Every sentence must do one of two things--reveal character or advance the action.

Start as close to the end (of the story) as possible.

Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. died on April 11, 2007 as a result of brain injuries he received in a fall at his home a few weeks before. He was 84 years old.

He shall be missed.

Back To Home Page