Thought I would quickly recap the lecture last night at Clowes Hall on the Butler University campus.
I’m also including a link from the Indy Star that covered the event.
Mark Vonnegut said he would be giving the hard copy of the speech to the Indianapolis Libraries, so hopefully a transcript of it will eventually end up online. The evening started out with a quick speech by Louis Mahern, the president of the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library Board of Trustees. Instead of then introducing Kurt they played “Tock – Tick”, a musical piece that includes Kurt reading from “Slaughter House Five.” I’m sure this can be found somewhere on the Internet. I had never heard it before, it was very cool. Here’s a link from Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Tock-Tick-Simon-Heselev-Vonnegut/dp/B00008PUMT/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-6243958-1642439?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1177756699&sr=8-1
Then Mark Vonnegut came out and, with some emotion, read Kurt’s prepared speech. He asked that we bear with him in case he broke down at any point. It was an amazing speech. Quintessential Vonnegut, 84 years old, and shortly before his death, the speech didn’t miss a beat. It was unbelievably funny and at other times, moving to the point of tears. He also still took a few jabs at the current administration. “What’s the only difference between Bush and Hitler? Hitler was elected.”
Mark choked up when reading about Booth Tarkington, another Hoosier writer,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Booth_Tarkington and when reading what his dad had said about him (Mark). Mark stated that shortly after writing this speech Kurt wrote what he wanted said at his memorial service and presented both to him. Mark said that there was part of him that felt his dad knew he would never be there to present the speech.
After the speech Jill Krementz, Nanny Pryor (Vonnegut), and Lily Vonnegut all came out and were presented with numerous awards by the library system, a state representative and the Mayor of Indianapolis. One special highlight of the evening was the announcement that Indianapolis now has its own national award for literature and it is appropriately named the Kurt Vonnegut Award for Literature. The first one was presented to Mark last night on Kurt’s behalf. If that isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.
The evening ended with a short speech by Jill Krementz. In some ways, this was the most moving part of the evening. She spoke with some intimacy about Kurt Vonnegut the husband, father and friend. She also mentioned his support of her work over the years and his love of simple pleasures: walking on a nice day, visits to his local post office, doing the NY Times crossword puzzle in ink. (A weird synchronicity moment for me as I just watched “Word Play” last week.) He also enjoyed watching Law and Order and Judge Judy.
There are other events going on in the city today commemorating the “Year of Vonnegut” and I believe the Vonnegut family will be present for those as well. We all owe them a debt of gratitude for their sacrifice in coming out here and giving of their time while I’m sure they’re still grieving over their loss.