Had a Blast in Barnstable!
Last weekend, the Sturgis Library in Barnstable, Massachusetts, recognized longtime resident Kurt Vonnegut with a reading marathon in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Slaughterhouse-Five. The library, itself, is amazing, as the house that formed the original part of the library is the oldest library building in the United States.
Kurt’s daughter Edie opened the weekend with her presentation, “Kurt Vonnegut’s Barnstable Years; A Daughter’s Recollection.” In addition to her memories about the evolution of the novel, Edie provided an impassioned look at the powerful influence and inspiration her mother, Jane Cox, had on Kurt’s writing career. Like her talented parents, Edie is an artist, and her unique artwork appears to bear the influences of both parents. Check out her work here.
The festival continued on Saturday with an all-day reading marathon of Slaughterhouse-Five, beginning with Kurt’s personal reporting on Barnstable, entitled, “You’ve Never Been to Barnstable?” Volunteers then took seven- minute shifts reading the book, beginning with “All this happened, more or less,” and ending with “Poo-tee-weet?” Upon completing the reading, the momentous achievement was followed by a cocktail party that included Kurt’s favorite drink, the Rob Roy.
Sunday events included a “How to Doodle Like Kurt Vonnegut” class at which participants discovered their own styles of artistic expression. Later, guests gathered for a screening of the filmed interview, “Kurt’s Karass: An Interview with Dan Wakefield,” with a panel discussion featuring Edie, Julia Whitehead, Marc Leeds, Pat LaMarche, and Max Goller. Then it was time for a Chowderfest dinner. The menu came from a wish list that an exhausted and hungry Kurt had written in Germany on May, 6, 1945, of all the foods he most wanted to eat after his liberation as a prisoner of war.
Thanks to Edie and John. Thanks to The Dolphin Restaurant for the special dinner. Thanks to Lucy Loomis and the staff of the Barnstable Library for keeping Kurt’s legacy in the spotlight as a place Kurt valued and supported. And thanks to the residents of Barnstable and beyond who showed up to learn more from us and to share their own recollections and scholarly knowledge. It was a great weekend.