One of Indianapolis‘ most beloved hometown sons is Kurt Vonnegut Jr., a writer whose satirical novels embodied the restless, anti-authority spirit of the late 60’s and early 70’s. The author of Slaughterhouse Five, Breakfast of Champions, Cat’s Cradle, and many others, Vonnegut wrote with a stripped down, ramshackle style that combined humor with stark observations of life in the mid 20th century. Some his characters, most notably the prolific (and third rate) science fiction writer Kilgore Trout, now hold a place in the public imagination of the country. Many writers have tried to imitate Vonnegut, but none have been able to perfectly capture the spirit of the famous Indianapolis resident. Kurt Vonnegut passed away on April 11 of 2007, but his works will live on, in part due to the new presence of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis. You can witness Vonnegut’s impact on the Circle City when you attend the Grand Opening of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library on Saturday, January 29, 2011.
Housed in the historic Emelie Building (on the National Register of Historic Places) in downtown Indianapolis, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library is an Indianapolis museum, art gallery, a reading room, and educational resource facility that contains lots of Vonnegut’s personal memorabilia as well as his artwork (anyone who knows Vonnegut lovingly remembers the crude line drawing of an anus in Breakfast of Champions) and several first edition manuscripts. The mission of the Indianapolis non-profit organization is to “support language and visual arts education through programs and outreach activities with other local arts organizations to foster a strong arts network for both the local and national community,” and with a book club, readings, and seminars, the library should be able to do just that.
|Video interview with Kurt Vonnegut in 2005; the Grand Opening of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library will take place on January 29, 2011|
The Emelie Building housed the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art until 2009, and its recently remodeled gallery spaces are perfect for holding Vonnegut’s works and artifacts. The Smith-Corona typewriter Vonnegut used to write several novels is on display, as are a plethora of silk screened drawings in the Indianapolis art gallery, including a bizarre multi-eyed portrait of Kilgore Trout and another of Tralfamadorian, an alien from Breakfast of Champions. If you’re interested in getting an inside glimpse of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library before it opens, check out the tour of the library that aired on C-SPAN 2’s Book TV on January 16, 2011.
|Video of the C-Span 2 Book TV tour of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis; the Grand Opening of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library takes place January 29, 2011|
The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library Grand Opening will take place on Saturday, January 29, 2011. This Indianapolis event promises to be great fun whether you’re familiar with Vonnegut or not. The library will officially open at noon with a ribbon cutting ceremony by Eli Lilly and Company CEO John Lechleiter. After the ribbon cutting, there will be a book signing with Majie Failey for her book, We Never Danced Cheek to Cheek. Failey was a lifelong friend to Vonnegut, and We Never Danced Cheek to Cheek chronicles important points in that friendship, from Vonnegut’s days at an Indianapolis school to his later years as a literary darling. Comprised of scrapbook clippings, editions of the magazine Vonnegut edited in high school, and childhood drawings, We Never Danced Cheek to Cheek is an intimate glimpse into the life of one of Central Indiana‘s favorite writers.
Also included in the Grand Opening of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library will be a question and answer session with Heather Augustyn, the last person to interview Vonnegut before his death. Augustyn, the author of Ska: An Oral History and a contributor to the Times of Northwest Indiana, Get Healthy, Shore Bride, and Shore, spoke to Vonnegut over the phone on February 28, just a couple of months before his death. The interview was short (only five questions long, cut short because Vonnegut was “not well”), but it covered religion, the Freethinkers, his Hoosier childhood, and the ideological struggles that would influence his novels. Augustyn also wrote an article for The Humanist entitled “Lonesome No More! Vonnegut’s Freethinking Heritage,” which she will read at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library Grand Opening.
The Grand Opening of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library takes place on Saturday, January 29, 2011 at the Emelie Building in downtown Indianapolis. Running from noon to five p.m., the event will start when John Lechleiter cuts the ribbon to officially open the Indianapolis attraction. Live Indianapolis music will be going on throughout the afternoon, and be sure to stick around for a book signing by Majie Failey and a presentation by Heather Augustyn. While you’re at the library, take in the collection of Vonnegut memorabilia, chat with fellow Vonnegut fans, or simply sit back and read a book. After all, even though the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library is an art gallery, learning space, and museum, it’s still a library at heart. And you can be assured that at the Grand Opening of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, (almost) everything will be beautiful and nothing will hurt.
Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library Grand Opening
Saturday, January 29, 2011 from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library
340 N Senate Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46204