His Last Words, However, He Composed in Advance

In the New York Observer (“Kurt Vonnegut’s Final Interview(s)“), Leon Neyfakh asks who can lay claim to having had the last interview with Kurt Vonnegut.

To the disappointment of the many who held Kurt Vonnegut in similar esteem, the writer was robbed of any significant last words when he lay unconscious after a sudden fall until his death on April 11, 2007.

For newspapers and magazines of a certain stripe, Last Interviews are the next-best thing.The Chicago-based political magazine In These Times, to which Vonnegut was a frequent contributor, published one of them; another was printed in the June issue of an in-flight magazine published by US Airways. A public radio show called The Infinite Mind presented a third in the virtual-reality world of Second Life.

Which of these is the real last interview? None of them, as it turns out.

Kind of a sad and trivial footnote, but he no doubt would have had something funny to say about it.



About the Author:

Keir Graff is Executive Editor of Booklist Publications and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix (2011). Follow him on Twitter at @Booklist_Keir.

1 Comment on "His Last Words, However, He Composed in Advance"

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  1. Bill@LCMedia.com' Bill Lichtenstein says:

    I agree with your post.

    Just for the record, with regard to the Observer story:

    Kurt Vonnegut’s interview for The Infinite Mind was his last full sit-down discussion, with an interviewer. They spoke for nearly an hour, and it was all included in the Google and YouTube videos (which have been seen more more than 75,000 viewers), and parts were aired on The Infinite Mind public radio show.

    Contrary to what the reporter asserted, we never said it was Vonnegut’s “last interview for The Infinite Mind.”

    What we said on Google Video was:

    “Author Kurt Vonnegut’s last sit-down interview, with The Infinite Mind’s John Hockenberry, recorded live in the virtual on-line community Second Life. The interview was part of the first live broadcasts from Second Life. The program will re-air on the national, weekly public radio series during the week starting April 18, 2007.”

    I don’t think it could have been more clear.

    Second, I am surprised that the reporter never called the producers of The Infinite Mind as part of his supposedly dogged historical research. If he was trying to sort it out, he should have.

    Finally, it’s just foofaraw. Must have been a slow news week. And likely Vonnegut would have chuckled. I can hear him even now.

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