To accompany the new Kurt Vonnegut book, We Are What We Pretend To Be: The First and Last Works, the author's youngest daughter Nanette gave an interview to The Rumpus. It covers a lot of personal insight into Vonnegut's life, like the effect World War II had on him.
My father was remembering what it was like and he knew: these are a batch of babies going off to war for nothing. There was a reviewer, William Deresiewicz, who writes for The Nation. He said Slaughterhouse-Five is not a book about flying saucers; it’s a book about post-traumatic stress disorder.
Rumpus: You hadn’t looked at it that way before?
Vonnegut: Nobody had the words for it back then.
Rumpus: So when your dad wrote he was expelling demons.
Vonnegut: He was expelling them with writing and with artwork. If he wasn’t writing he was creating terraces on our patio. He was a nonstop creative force. It was like he had to keep busy or he would die.
The demons gave him the impetus. I do think people are born with the seed of genius, and it either gets worked or it doesn’t. Probably his experiences [in WWII] gave him the impetus to create. Everything he wrote about stemmed from that.