Dan Wakefield on Kurt Vonnegut (2012)

“Nothing came easy for him. Nothing deterred him – not the many editors and publishers who rejected his books and stories; not the Anthropology Department at the University of Chicago, which rejected not one but two of the theses he wrote for his M.A. degree (awarding it to him only after he was famous); not the Guggenheim Foundation, which rejected his first application for a fellowship; not the doubting relatives and friends from home like his Uncle Alex, who said he couldn’t read The Sirens of Titan, after Kurt had dedicated the book to him, or his Aunt Ella Stewart, who would not stock his books in the bookstore she owned in Louisville, Kentucky, because she found them degenerate; not his Cape Cod neighbors who didn’t read his books and expressed no interest in what he did for a living; not the school boards that banned his books (and in one case burned them in a furnace) without ever reading them; not the academic critics who spurned and dismissed him; not the backbiting reviewers who tried to drag him down after he became famous; not the bureaucrats he battled for the rights of writers throughout the world; not the right-wing Christian religious groups that condemned this man who described Jesus Christ as ‘the greatest and most humane of human beings.’ Anyone who imagines a writer’s life has ever been easy – even one who eventually achieves fame and fortune – will be disabused of that fantasy after reading [Kurt’s] letters. And they will be inspired.”