1991: Kurt Vonnegut goes one-on-one with Diane Willis

Posted at 5:00 AM, Nov 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-11 05:00:57-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Author and Indy native Kurt Vonnegut would’ve celebrated his 99th birthday today.

The writer known for works like “Slaughterhouse-Five,” “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater” and “Breakfast of Champions,” died at his home in New York City on April 11, 2007.

While Vonnegut resided in New York, he always considered himself a Hoosier. Vonnegut made a trip back to Indiana in October 1991 to deliver the keynote address at Wordstruck: The First Indiana Festival of Books.

WRTV anchor and reporter Diane Willis had a one-on-one interview with Vonnegut on Oct. 10, 1991.

Vonnegut described Indianapolis as “...a swell place to grow up.” He also addressed the public perception that he was seen as a pessimist.

“Any nitwit can be cheerful, particularly if you’re ignorant. But if you hang around with scientists as I do, the news is perfectly terrible. So for me to be optimistic, to say everything is swell, would require me to be a liar. That’s not a good thing to be. People act as though he’s [Vonnegut] depressed all the time, well you know, I read the paper all the time and that’s why I’m depressed.”

As for when he departs this world, Vonnegut told Willis, “I’m an atheist. I don’t believe there’s an afterlife, and after I’m dead, I won’t feel anything, so I don’t care.”

Vonnegut is the subject of a much-anticipated upcoming documentary titled, "Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time." Filmmaker Robert Weide documented the life and career of Vonnegut as well as the friendship between the two men. The film will be released November 19.