Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Writer

Born: 11 November 1922
Died: 11 April 2007 (brain injury)
Birthplace: Indianapolis, Indiana
Best known as:

The author of Slaughterhouse-Five

Kurt Vonnegut wrote dozens of satirical novels whose central theme was life's cosmic joke on humanity.  A modern-day Mark Twain, right down to the bushy mustache and black humor, Vonnegut was often called a science fiction author, but more often he used the cloak of sci-fi as a means to deliver his cranky-but-funny deliberations on the human condition. His best-known books include Cat's Cradle (1963), Welcome to the Monkey House (1968), Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), and Slapstick (1976). Many of his books featured a character named Kilgore Trout, a fictional author who was something of an alter-ego for Vonnegut himself. Kurt Vonnegut was a World War II veteran who survived prisoner-of-war camps and the American bombing of Dresden, Germany, events that informed much of his fiction. Vonnegut was an especially fashionable author in the late 1960s and 1970s; his once-daring satire lost its literary luster in later years, but he continues to be popular with late teen and young adult readers.

Extra credit:

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s father was also named Kurt... Vonnegut was the unwitting subject of a famous Internet hoax in 1997: a list of whimsical advice for college graduates (which began with the admonition "Wear sunscreen") was widely circulated via e-mail, and said to be the text of a Vonnegut commencement address at MIT. In truth, Vonnegut had no connection with the essay. It was written by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich... Venus on the Half-Shell, a real-life 1975 novel "by" Kilgore Trout, was written not by Vonnegut but by Philip Jose Farmer.

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