Kurt Vonnegut's Letters

Shaun Usher is delighted to have a copy of the new book Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, which is available for purchase today. He has published two of the letters at Letters of Note, in which the author's fatherly side is evident. One concerns his son Mark, who received his draft notice in 1967. Here's the first part of it:

To Draft Board #1,
Selective Service,
Hyannis, Mass.

Gentlemen:

My son Mark Vonnegut is registered with you. He is now in the process of requesting classification as a conscientious objector. I thoroughly approve of what he is doing. It is in keeping with the way I have raised him. All his life he has learned hatred for killing from me.

I was a volunteer in the Second World War. I was an infantry scout, saw plenty of action, was finally captured and served about six months as a prisoner of war in Germany. I have a Purple Heart. I was honorably discharged. I am entitled, it seems to me, to pass on to my son my opinion of killing. I don't even hunt or fish any more. I have some guns which I inherited, but they are covered with rust.

This attitude toward killing is a matter between my God and me. I do not participate much in organized religion. I have read the Bible a lot. I preach, after a fashion. I write books which express my disgust for people who find it easy and reasonable to kill.  

The second letter is to a school that had banned one of Vonnegut's books. Both are straight to the point and well worth reading. Link


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