When Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. died in 2007, American literature lost one of its most idiosyncratic and beloved voices. That voice is now being honoured with a new library in the author’s hometown of Indianapolis. The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library opened last week in an historic downtown building. Several of the rooms were paid for by donations from a local law firm, which is somewhat ironic given Vonnegut’s often cutting barbs about the legal profession. Among the items on display are Vonnegut’s typewriter and an unopened package of Pall Mall cigarettes.
As to why the library is located in Indianapolis and not the east coast, where Vonnegut lived for most of his life, The New York Times has this to say:
As the library welcomed the public for the first time last week, the author’s friends and family said that it belonged in Indianapolis, with which he had a complicated and not always complimentary relationship. Despite his criticism of the traditionally conservative city, this is where he developed his voice as a writer and learned the values expressed in his books.
All my jokes are Indianapolis, Mr. Vonnegut said at a speech here in 1986. All my attitudes are Indianapolis. My adenoids are Indianapolis. If I ever severed myself from Indianapolis, I would be out of business. What people like about me is Indianapolis.