Saturday, October 19, 2013

Letter to Kurt Vonnegut Dec 3, 1975

It had been six years since Dad had praised Kurt Vonnegut in a  New York Times Book Review article entitled "Kurt Vonnegut, Head Bookinist", timed for the release of Slaughterhouse-Five. Nine years since he'd written a"ground breaking" retrospective of the author's works for The New Republic. Now, with the looming publication of Friendly Fire, Dad was seeking friendly blurbs from the kind of people who would make a difference. He thought Vonnegut owed him one so when the esteemed author declined, Dad was incensed enough to write Vonnegut a "snarler".

      Dear Kurt:

           Harvey Ginsberg at G.P. Putnam's told me you had declined to read the manuscript of my book Friendly Fire because everyone was asking you to read books these days. When I wrote you and said that if you were too busy I'd understand and promise not to sulk, I did not promise not to be angry and a little amazed. Back in 1966, you may remember, when you were still trying to make it big, I helped you out by doing that long retrospective review of your previous books for The New Republic suggesting people consider you  something more than a science fiction writer and that you be taken seriously. I later, out of friendship for you , did that "side-piece" on you to tie in with Bob Scholes' review of Slaughterhouse-Five for the NYTBR.

         In the copy of Mother Night you autographed for me in Iowa City in 1967 you wrote :
          "To Courtlandt Dixon Barnes Bryan, cousin of my fourth best student, main sponsor of me as a Guggenheim fellow--in short, a friend worth ten thousand dollars, three thousand of them tax free. Love, Kurt Vonnegut Jr."
          As I said, I understand that you are very busy. In turn, I trust you will understand that I figure you're a friend worth about two cents.


          C.D.B. Bryan

  I have no reason to believe the two ever spoke, or wrote,  to each other again.

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