KVML Donor Spotlight – Meet Amy Kosnoff

Every once in a while, we’ll write up a profile of a donor on this blog. Today, we’re delighted to introduce you to Amy Kosnoff. Read all about why she loves Vonnegut and his Memorial Library. If you would like to donate to us, mouse over the “About” tab on our website and click on “Get Involved” or scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page and click the red button.

Why have you chosen to support the Vonnegut Library?  

I chose to support the Vonnegut Library after attending an Armistice Day event a few years ago.  Attending the event pushed me to reread Slaughterhouse-Five, and I remembered what a great author Vonnegut was and wanted to do my part to promote his legacy.  I’m proud he was from Indianapolis and love that KVML keeps his work present in our hearts and minds.

2017 is the Year of Vonnegut. As part of this year-long celebration, KVML is hosting programs to foster conversation about common decency.  How do you hope conversations like these can help bring community together?

I am feeling very cynical about the state of our political discourse, I must admit.  I want us to be more civil and kind as Vonnegut implored, but I don’t see that happening in many popular media outlets.  In turn, citizens feel permitted to adopt more extreme and negative views about those who disagree with them.  I find myself falling into that trap as well, so I’m constantly telling myself that I have to remember everyone really just wants what is best for themselves, their families, and our country.  I hope conversations hosted by KVML will help us get out of our silos and see that folks on the opposite side of the aisle aren’t “deplorables” or “elites.” They are just good people trying to get through another day.  As Vonnegut once said, “There’s only one rule that I know of, babies -God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” Any reminder to be kind is worth keeping top of mind and repeating, even if it involves swear words!

Kosnoff with a healthy stack of Vonnegut novels.

How were you first introduced to Kurt Vonnegut?

I started to read Vonnegut when I was a teenager.  We had Slaughterhouse-Five around the house, as well as Cat’s Cradle.  I started with Slaughterhouse-Five and really loved it, although in retrospect, I realize I had no idea what it was about beyond being an “anti-war” novel.  I read Cat’s Cradle next, and I’m sure I didn’t understand it either!  Luckily, I reread Slaughterhouse-Five as an adult and began to appreciate both the great humor and irony Vonnegut brings to such a serious subject and the sadness of what war does to our young soldiers. Vonnegut was talking about PTSD before it was a household term.

What is your favorite Vonnegut book and why?

To shake things up a bit, I’m going to say Player Piano.  As Vonnegut’s first novel, it shows what a great talent he was from the beginning; he takes a unique concept and uses a straightforward style to tell a somewhat disturbing story.  I loved his prose, his characters, and his humor. Also, while his assumptions about the future missed the mark in a few ways, they were dead on in many others; the growth of automation in manufacturing, the pitting of human smarts against artificial intelligence, and the outsized role of corporations in our politics are all concerns in our current society – issues he was insightful enough to raise in 1952.  Finally, the ideas are heady; the value of work in our lives, the ethics and potential dangers of relying on artificial intelligence, and the fascination we have with both technology and simpler times are all pretty significant concepts we debate today. I recommend this book to everyone I know, but I don’t think anyone has taken me up on the suggestion yet!! So it goes.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Sure! You might like to know that I decorate with Vonnegut books!  I won the (not quite) full collection of his works printed by Dial Press at the Night of Vonnegut event last year.  They are trade paperbacks with colorful covers and his artwork on the front.  I have them stacked on a table where everyone who visits our house sees them!  They are a great conversation piece.  Plus, I get to enjoy them every day!


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