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The Best Work in Literature

May 30, 2013

  Photo by Daniel Leininger / Flickr   The following post by Manjula Martin (@manjulamartin) is part of our online companion to our Spring 2013 issue on The Business of Literature. Click here for an overview of the issue. [...]

Othmer on Vonnegut: Kurt in a Storm

April 16, 2007
Vonnegut self-portrait
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?