Indy remembers Kurt Vonnegut - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Indy remembers Kurt Vonnegut

A bust of Kurt Vonnegut A bust of Kurt Vonnegut
Nelson Price Nelson Price
Vonnegut's grandfather designed the Athenaeum downtown. Vonnegut's grandfather designed the Athenaeum downtown.

Jennie Runevitch/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - Best-selling author and Indianapolis native Kurt Vonnegut is being remembered today across the city. Vonnegut passed away Wednesday, at the age of 84, after suffering brain injuries from a fall at his Manhattan home.

Indianapolis declared 2007 "Year of Vonnegut" to honor his work. He was scheduled to visit his hometown in two weeks.

The life of native Hoosier Kurt Vonnegut was as dramatic as one of his novels. It's a story now told to new generations of readers.

Author and journalist Nelson Price gave high school students a lecture on Vonnegut's life Thursday as part of the city's "Year of Vonnegut" celebration.

"You can't overstate his impact. I mean, I consider him a literary superstar," said Price.

During his career, Kurt Vonnegut wrote at least 19 novels and numerous short stories and essays.

The satirical novelist was perhaps best known for "Slaughterhouse Five" and "Breakfast of Champions."

Through each chapter of his literary success, Vonnegut remained a true Hoosier.

"To me, Kurt Vonnegut was as Hoosier as a John Mellencamp song or a Hoagie Carmichael song or a TC Steele painting. He was very proud of his Indianapolis roots. He told me once in an interview, 'I'm a product of Indianapolis,'" said Price.

Vonnegut's personal story and connection to Indy started at his boyhood home on North Illinois Street.

He lived there until age nine, and later graduated from Shortridge High School, where he was editor for the student newspaper.

Vonnegut grew up in a prominent Indianapolis family. His father and grandfather were well-known architects whose impact on the downtown landscape remain.

Bernard Vonnegut designed the Athenaeum downtown.

"Kurt considered this his grandfather's masterpiece," said Phil Watts, Athenaeum Foundation President.

Vonnegut visited Indianapolis to celebrate the Athenaeum's restoration. His artwork hangs on the walls.  His place there is permanent.

Watts considered Vonnegut a personal friend.

"I think he's probably one of the most famous men ever to come out of Indianapolis," said Watts. "He's just an icon and it's a major loss to us and the country."

Indianapolis was in the midst of celebrating its icon, with the "Year of Vonnegut," a chance for Hoosiers to rediscover a world-renowned writer from their own hometown.

Just yesterday, the city announced Slaughterhouse Five as this year's pick for the One Book One City program.

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