10 (More) Things I’ve Learned While Locked Up in the Vonnegut Library

Writer Hugh Vandivier, stuck in the same downtown window since Sunday in observance of Banned Books Week, shared random thoughts from captivity with IM on Thursday. And his mind is still wandering …

1. There’s a video monitor in the library with a welcome message from Morley Safer that comes on every few minutes. At one point, it started skipping, and he sounded like Max Headroom.

2. People really love Kurt Vonnegut Jr. It’s evident by meeting the people who find this place. A lot of out-of-towners stop by.

3. Mark Vonnegut, Kurt’s son, had a run-in with Jack Kerouac in the ’60s.

4. We put together an art show called Banned Books Re-Covered, inviting local artists to reimagine covers of challenged books. All the art is up for sale; it’s diverse in style and high in quality. Buy some.

5. Local weather has become completely irrelevant. I can tell you my forecast: 69 degrees for the high and 69 degrees for the low.

6. WTHR featured me on their Daybreak show, 5:30 news, and website. I should have known better than to read the story comments on their Facebook site. But at least the worst thing anyone said was, “This is news?”

7. State Rep. Christina Hale (D-Indianapolis) read a chapter from Catcher in the Rye on Tuesday night. She admitted that she didn’t much like to read Vonnegut, which I thought was a really brave thing to say when standing in the middle of his library.

8. The library made up bookmarks featuring some of the objectionable language in Slaughterhouse-Five on one side and a funny quote on the other. I’ve seen a few men stick them in their outer jacket pockets, with the words “old fart” prominently (and unintentionally) displayed.

9. Right at midnight on Tuesday/Wednesday, a car drove up, and a man got out and started walking toward the front door. It was Richard Vonnegut, a cousin of Kurt’s, and we chatted for an hour about censorship, what divides us Americans, bike culture, the forgotten sandwich generations, and the disconnect from our technology, among other things.

10. This is a pretty great gig so far, but I’m sure my bed will feel glorious on Saturday, along with the sun. And maybe a nice cigar.


Read the first 10 Things Vandivier Learned While Locked Up.

Read Vandivier’s 2002 IM interview with Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, 340 N. Senate Ave., vonnegutlibrary.org

Photos by Emily Taylor