Kurt Vonnegut’s hometown has been celebrating his literary works in a “Year of Vonnegut” and will honor the late author this month at a sold-out event where he had been scheduled to speak.
Fans who were eagerly awaiting his lecture on April 27 are crestfallen at Vonnegut’s death, said Chris Cairo, the Marion County Public Library’s director of project development.
“We’re just heartbroken,” she said Thursday.
Mark Vonnegut will speak at Butler University in place of his father, who died Wednesday at age 84 after being injured in a fall at his home in New York.
The numerous honors Vonnegut was to receive at his appearance will be presented to Mark Vonnegut, a pediatrician in Milton, Mass.
Cairo said the event will serve as a public memorial for people who felt they knew Vonnegut through his works that mixed humor with acidic social commentary.
Vonnegut, who authored “Slaughterhouse-Five,” “Cat’s Cradle” and nearly two dozen other books, was regarded as a key influence in 20th-century American literature.
He was born and grew up in Indianapolis, the youngest of three children, hailing from an affluent German-American family that played a key role in the city’s early development.
Vonnegut’s paternal grandfather was an architect who designed several Indianapolis landmarks. His father also was an architect, but the family’s fortunes fell sharply during the Great Depression.
Despite those woes and later family tragedies that included his mother’s suicide, Vonnegut recalled his childhood as a happy time.
“Indianapolis was home. I had brother and sister and a dog and a cat and a mother and father and the whole thing, uncles and aunts and tons of cousins,” he said in a January interview. “It was all here for me — music, science, people so smart you couldn’t believe it, people so dumb you couldn’t believe it, people so nice or so mean you couldn’t believe it.”