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James P. Othmer

James P. Othmer’s short story, “The Futurist,” was published in the Fall 2004 issue of VQR and was nominated for a National Magazine Award for Fiction. The story also formed the basis for his debut novel The Futurist, (Doubleday, 2006), named as one of the ten best novels of 2006 by His website is


Othmer on Vonnegut: Kurt in a Storm

April 16, 2007 | Memoir
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?


Due West

Writers on Writers | Fiction

The car that is about to crush me is driven by Nathanael West.I’m certain it’s him, even though he’s been dead for exactly sixty-five years and I’ve never seen as much as a photograph of him. He’s plowing through my intersection in a navy b [...]

The Futurist

Fall 2004 | Fiction

The Futurist never saw it coming. But now that he thinks of it, it’s not surprising. Not surprising that she’s telling him in the most intentionally archaic way: a pen-and-ink note slipped into his state-of-the-art carry-on. Written in past tense [...]