Second Edition: VonnegutFest Returns

Our guide to celebrating Indy’s most famous author
Last time the city devoted a year to Kurt Vonnegut, in 2007, the author died. For the 2017 Year of Vonnegut, we’re celebrating his life—with the grand opening of a new Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, tours of his childhood home, lit-inspired cocktails, and more. Here, our literary (festival) review of VonnegutFest:

Go on a choose-your-own-pub crawl.

Ten bars are serving Vonnegut-inspired drinks through April 1. Stop by Hotel Tango for a Sherman Krebbs, named after the Cat’s Cradle character, or The Libertine for a Hartke, a fancified Rob Roy built around coconut-and-green-tea-infused single-malt scotch (in Hocus Pocus, Hartke has a son named Rob Roy, after the cocktail, and there’s a quote about wanting a sweet take on it). A recurring Vonnegut character gets his own drink at Spoke & Steele: Kilgore Trout’s Drano is made with scotch (when poured with water, the author’s own drink of choice) and a dash of activated charcoal, a subtle nod to the darkness of Trout’s fate.

 And treat yo’ self.

The Best Chocolate in Town will start selling truffles adorned with an asterisk—the meaning of which should be clear to anyone who’s read Breakfast of Champions—in April. The Mass Ave confectionery will make them seasonally.

 Billy Pilgrim fans, circle up.

On February 13, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library partners with Union Chapel United Methodist Church for Slaughterhouse-Five Day. The event coincides with the 72nd anniversary of the firebombing of Dresden, Germany, the centerpiece of Vonnegut’s most famous novel. Expect readings from the book, live art-making, and music from the Indy-based band Kilgore Trout.

 Don your best black-tie for the Night of  Vonnegut.

The KVML celebrates its new home on Mass Ave with an April 8 grand-opening gala at the Athenaeum.

You can compose a letter on the author’s typewriter.

Or a poem, or an essay, or a love note, or whatever else you can bang out in 15 minutes. For the five years the KVML has been open, Vonnegut’s typewriter has been locked in a display case. Beginning on the library’s grand-opening day, April 8, anyone who donates $500 can use the typewriter for a quarter-hour.

Vonnegut’s childhood home is this year’s Decorators’ Show House.

You can tour the Tudor-style, four-bedroom residence at 4401 N. Illinois St. from April 29 through May 14. The annual event, organized by St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild, will bring together 26 interior designers and landscapers.

Banned books will form a prison.

The Vonnegut Library will commemorate Banned Books Week, September 25–29, with speakers  and a discussion of “Common Decency and Banned Books.” Schools and libraries frequently deem Vonnegut titles verboten, most often Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions. Craig Brandhorst, a senior writer at the University of South Carolina, will spend a week in the library “imprisoned” behind a wall of banned books (yes, he’ll sleep there and everything).

 Kurt gets hummable?

This fall, Theatre on the Square opens its 2017 season with the Indy premiere of the musical God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, based on the author’s novel. It became a 1979 off-Broadway flop, notable mainly as the first collaboration between Howard Ashman (book and lyrics) and Alan Menken (music), the team that went on to do Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Little Shop of Horrors. The show was most recently performed in July 2016 in New York, starring James Earl Jones as Kilgore Trout, the novelist whose utopian vision inspires Eliot Rosewater to blow his millions on a poverty-stricken Indiana town. If the score—encompassing pop, ragtime, operetta, and Disney-esque ballads—is as catchy as “Suddenly Seymour” and “Under the Sea,” count us in.