On April 11, 2007, one of America’s most witty and wonderful science fiction writers took what he might have called a big trip up yonder. Kurt Vonnegut, visionary wordsmith behind such classic works as Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions, passed away. Before his death, though, the Indianapolis native – heralded by many as the counterculture’s novelist – formed a practically fraternal bond with filmmaker Bob Weide. Weide once aided in adapting Vonnegut’s 1961 war story Mother Night to the silver screen, but through continued correspondence and care he cemented himself as an invaluable initiate in Vonnegut’s karass. Eight years later, Weide has collaborated with the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library – an affiliate of the American Writers Museum – to see that his dear friend’s literary legacy will endure for tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
In February 2015, Weide launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the completion of his dream documentary, Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time. Unlike some other recalcitrant twentieth century science fiction writers, Vonnegut has never been the singular focus of a documentary feature. His brilliant but significantly less convivial contemporary Harlan Ellison, in contrast, was the subject of 2008’s critically lauded Dreams with Sharp Teeth. Ellison and Vonnegut worked together for the 1972 anthology Again, Dangerous Visions.
Weide’s vision is perhaps a bit less dangerous. In Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time, he hopes to coalesce a heretofore unreleased compilation of Vonnegut footage and interviews with the some of the author’s closest compatriots. Weaving together the disparate clips like a delicate cat’s cradle is the narrative of a young documentarian sincerely connecting with his wise sage of a subject.
The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library has been one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the project. As a reward for all those who contributed $25 or more to Weide’s successful crowdfunding venture, the library presented one-year memberships which, according to a recent eNews update, numbered approximately 3,000. This means that in addition to helping preserve the legacy of one of America’s most treasured storytellers, these hundreds of new members that find themselves in Indianapolis in the upcoming year will have the opportunity to see relics from Vonnegut’s life and original samples of his works. The latter will be especially beneficial for those who may have missed a few of the more ambiguous references throughout this blog post.
As new initiates into a community of canaries in a cathouse, many new library card carriers enamored with the life and works of Kurt Vonnegut can look forward to being lonesome no more.