My first date with Kurt Vonnegut

Charles J. Shields, whose biography of Kurt Vonnegut is due out from Henry Holt & Co. in 2011, in his blog Writing Kurt Vonnegut:

These are the notes that I typed back in my hotel room a few hours after I met Kurt for the first time on December 13, 2006.

Kurt-at-typewriter1-e1276260510218 Vonnegut lives in an off-white brick home on E. 48th Street; a long flight of stairs in front. He greeted me at the door in light grey denim trousers, walking shoes, and a Xavier College sweatshirt. His face was drawn, his skin was gray, and his large hazel eyes had a rheumy stare. His hair— brushed and blown until it stood out— was the color of nicotine and cigarette paper.

I presented him with a bouquet of flowers for his wife, the photojournalist Jill Krementz. Kurt instructed their housekeeper, Maria to “put them in water and say who they’re from.” He was eager to show me where he worked, which was on the third floor, at the top of two staircases that curled up the right-hand wall. I had the feeling we were like two boys who had just met and he was making friends in the time-honored way of showing me his room.

His study, L-shaped, about 12’ x 15’ looks like where a man could spend a good deal of time alone. There’s a double bed in there; and his framed lithographs appear on the walls. A stack of them, about 50, leaned against the wall beside the fireplace. The sinuous figures were done in heavy black line and primary colors.

“Who’s your influence?” I asked. They reminded me of abstracts from the 1950s.

“Paul Klee,” he said, pleased that I wanted to know.

More here.