Dan Wakefield: Kurt Vonnegut: The Making of a Writer
Dan Wakefield, a friend and mentee of Vonnegut’s, joins us to discuss and sign his new book on February 18th at 2pm.
Dan Wakefield will discuss and answer questions regarding his new book: Kurt Vonnegut: The Making of a Writer. This talk is suitable for all ages. Signed copies of the book will be available to purchase at the talk.
The first and only YA biography of the great American novelist and humanist comes out on the 100th anniversary of his birth.
Kurt Vonnegut, author of Slaughterhouse Five, Breakfast of Champions, Cat’s Cradle, and many other brilliant novels and short stories, is one of our greatest American writers, often using science fiction, humor, and a humanist view of society, religion, politics, and human nature in his writing to show us the absurdity and the loveliness of life on earth. Born in 1922, Vonnegut’s life was full of great fortune and great despair: his family was wealthy, but lost everything in the market crash of 1929; he was the youngest son in a loving family, until his mother fell into a depression and committed suicide; he joined the army in WWII with great pride for our country, but experienced instead a world of destruction and horror. These and many others were the experiences that made him a writer. But how did he channel the highs and lows of his life into great writing?
Dan Wakefield, a friend and mentee of Vonnegut’s for decades and a fellow Hoosier, distills the facts including Kurt’s novels, essays, interviews, letters and personal experiences, into a beautiful telling of the making of a writer. Using the second person “You,” it is as though Wakefield is a friend walking through Kurt’s life alongside him, a guide for readers to his extraordinary life. Here is an American life, a burgeoning artist’s life to inspire anyone who has read Vonnegut’s work or who themselves aspire to write.
Dan Wakefield is a novelist, journalist and screenwriter whose best-selling novels “Going All The Way” and “Starting Over” were produced as feature films, and he created the NBC prime time TV series “James at 15.” A documentary film has been produced of his memoir “New York in the Fifties.”
His non-fiction books on spirituality include “Returning: A Spiritual Journey;” “Creating from The Spirit;” “The Story of Your Life: Writing a Spiritual Autobiography,” “Expect a Miracle,” and “How Do We Know When It’s God ?: A Spiritual Memoir.”
Wakefield has been the recipient of a Neiman Fellowship in Journalism, the Bernard DeVoto Fellowship to the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, a Rockefeller Grant for Creative Writing, and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. He has taught in the writing programs at Boston University, the University of Massachusetts at Boston, Emerson College, The Iowa Writers Workshop, and is presently Writer in Residence at Florida International University in Miami.
Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, Wakefield was an Eagle Scout, and began his writing career as a columnist of his high school newspaper, The Shortridge Daily Echo, also serving as sports correspondent for The Indianapolis Star. After graduating from Columbia College in New York City in 1955, he wrote for many national magazines (including The New York Times Magazine, Harpers, The Atlantic Monthly) and published his first book, “Island in the City: The World of Spanish Harlem.” (Other non-fiction books include “The Addict: an Anthology,” “All Her Children: The Making of a Soap Opera,” and “Supernation at Peace and War,” which first appearred as the entire issue of The March, 1968 Atlantic Monthly.) He has been a staff writer for The Nation Magazine, a Contributing Editor of The Atlantic Monthly, a Contributing Writer for GQ, a Contributing Editor of The Yoga Journal,and is on the advisory board of Image: A Journal of The Arts and Religion.
Mr. Wakefield was baptized as a child at the First Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, and at age nine attended a Baptist Bible School class that led him to choose baptism by full immersion at the age of eleven. During college he became an atheist, and did not return to church until 1980 when he went to a Christmas Eve service at King’s Chapel, a Christian church in the Unitarian-Universalist denomination in Boston. He joined that church, served on its vestry and as co-chair of its adult religious education committee, and served on the national board of the Unitarian-Universalist Christian Fellowship.
The author and teacher has led his workshops in “Spiritual Autobiography” and “Creating fromn the Spirit” at churches, synagogues, and adult education centers throughout the U.S. and in Mexico and Northern Ireland, and at Sing Sing prison, including the following: Auburn Theological Seminary and Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, The Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco, The Society of St. John the Evangalist (Episcopal) Monastery in Cambridge, Mass., Trinity Episcopal Church and King’s Chapel in Boston, Glastonbury Abbey Benedictine Monastery in Himgham, Mass., St. Gregory’s Episcoapl Church in San Francisco, the Faith Methodist Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, Trinity Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia.