Kurt Vonnegut Walks Into a Bar: How the legendary writer handled his Scotch and his fans

Terry McDonell in Electric Literature:

1-mlv9nDMSTxfujXjgw3r5JQI was on the corner of Third Avenue and Forty-eighth Street, and Kurt Vonnegut was coming toward me, walking his big, loose-boned walk. It was fall and turning cold and he looked a little unbalanced in his overcoat, handsome but tousled, with long curly hair and a heavy mustache that sometimes hid his grin. I could tell he saw me by his shrug, which he sometimes used as a greeting.

I was on my way to buy dinner for some Newsweek writers who were suspicious of me as their new assistant managing editor. I had been brought in from Rolling Stone, and no one at Newsweek had heard of me. I didn’t know them either, but I knew Kurt, who was one of the first people I met when I moved to New York. We were neighbors on Forty-eighth Street, where he lived in a big townhouse in the middle of the block, and he’d invite me over for drinks. I had gotten him to contribute to Rolling Stone by keeping an eye out for his speeches and radio appearances and then suggesting ways they could be retooled as essays.

“Come have dinner,” I said. “I’ve got some Newsweek writers who would love to meet you.”

“Not in the mood,” Kurt said.

“They’re fans,” I said. “It’s part of your job.”

Kurt lit a Pall Mall and gave me a look, one of his favorites, amused but somehow saddened by the situation. He could act, Kurt.

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