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Why should you read Kurt Vonnegut? - Mia Nacamulli

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Kurt Vonnegut found the tidy, satisfying arcs of many stories at odds with reality, and he set out to explore the ambiguity between good and bad fortune in his own novels. He tried to make sense of human behavior by studying the shapes of stories — ditching straightforward chronologies and clear-cut fortunes. Mia Nacamulli dives into the sometimes dark, yet hopeful works of Vonnegut.

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Meet The Creators

  • Educator Mia Nacamulli
  • Director Lisa LaBracio
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Designer Lisa LaBracio
  • Animator Lisa LaBracio
  • Sound Designer Stephen LaRosa
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Associate Editorial Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Fact-checker Francisco Diez

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Additional Resources for you to Explore

As a prolific writer of short stories, novels, essays, letters and plays, Kurt Vonnegut took his readers through twists and turns with his unconventional approach to chronology and linear narratives. He developed a theory on common story shapes, mapping them out into simple line graphs. You can watch him describe the shapes of stories here (and get a taste for his signature sense of humor), and see a graphic chart based on his theories here.

In addition to his writing, Vonnegut also riddled most of his novels with illustrations. He later created screenprints and other artwork. You can watch him discuss his “utterly irresponsible” pictures during an interview at a 2000 exhibit of his work at the Michelson Gallery in Northampton, MA. He also went deeper into his family’s artistic legacy and the influence on his own work in this Huffington Post interview.

Kilgore Trout, the possible alter-ego of Kurt Vonnegut who pops up in most of his novels, is a down-and-out science-fiction writer inspired by the real-life Theodore Sturgeon. You can see a list of his books here, and even this compilation of bits of his writing that appear in Vonnegut books. Bokonon, the creator of the fictional religion Bokononism in Cat’s Cradle, has his share of writing out there, too. You can get a brief look at some of the religion’s basic lessons, or delve deeper into excerpts from the Book of Bokonon.

Vonnegut had countless quotable advice for his readers and fans, as well as tips he gave out in his raspy smoke-filled timbre at lectures. For young writers, he laid out the basics of creative writing, and for whomever would listen, he passionately wrote letters and essays about the state of the world – such as in this personal letter (read here by the actor Benedict Cumberbatch) to the head of a school board who had ordered the burning of his books.

And, finally, you can find all there is to know about Kurt Vonnegut at the Kurt Vonnegut Society (promoting the scholarly study of Vonnegut), as well as at the Vonnegut Museum and Library.

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TED-Ed Animation lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Mia Nacamulli
  • Director Lisa LaBracio
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Designer Lisa LaBracio
  • Animator Lisa LaBracio
  • Sound Designer Stephen LaRosa
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Associate Editorial Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Fact-checker Francisco Diez

Share

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