- Self-portrait by Kurt Vonnegut.
If you had to be out and about as a hurricane was bearing down on New York City, there were worse places to be than in the back of a limousine with Kurt Vonnegut. Especially if you were twenty-three years old and wanted to be a writer.
It was September of 1985 and we were driving through midtown Manhattan during the prelude to Hurricane Gloria. Storefronts were covered with plywood. Rain blew horizontally over streets that Kurt and I seemingly had to ourselves. This was my first job out of college, working as a publicity assistant for his publisher and I was, understandably, unnerved. My boss was a hurricane-induced no-show that morning and there was a full slate of morning show appearances to make. Plus, I had never been alone with a literary icon before. I had never been in a hurricane before.
But Kurt could not have been more relaxed. And why not? What’s a little rain and wind after you’ve lived through the Great Depression, survived being a prisoner of war, and the firebombing of Dresden?