It’s the birthday of a writer who was also a veteran (11/11 is Veteran’s Day in the United States, which honors Americans who have served their country in the armed forces) Kurt Vonnegut (books by this author), born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on this day in 1922. He’s the author of Slaughterhouse Five (1969), Cat’s Cradle (1963), Breakfast of Champions (1973), and Timequake (1997).
He said that as the youngest child he was always desperate to get some attention at the supper table and so he worked hard to be funny. He’d listen studiously to comedians on the radio, and how they made jokes, and then at family dinner time, he’d try to imitate them. He later said, “That’s what my books are, now that I’m a grownup — mosaics of jokes.”
All his life he loved slapstick humor. He told an interviewer that one of the funniest things that can happen in a film is “when somebody in a movie would tell everybody off, and then make a grand exit into the coat closet. He had to come out again, of course, all tangled in coat hangers and scarves.” When he was on the faculty at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he told his students that they were there learning to play practical jokes. He said, “All the great story lines are great practical jokes that people fall for over and over again.”