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Posts Tagged ‘Jill Krementz’

Vonnegut’s Name Near the Street Where He Lived

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Kurt Vonnegut may have passed on, but if the community Board 6 members have their way, his name will be immortalized on the street where he lived. The New York Sun reported yesterday that board members voted to rename the corner of East 48th Street and Second Avenue, where Vonnegut lived for nearly 40 years, after the famed author. Vonnegut was often seen walking his dog in Dag Hammarskjold Park near the United Nations and sitting on the stoop of his townhouse, thinking, smoking, and nodding to passersby. He and his wife, photographer Jill Krementz, had a second home in Sagaponack, Long Island, but spent most of their days in Manhattan.

Kurt Vonnegut Way was a “no-brainer,” board members said, and was almost unanimously approved. (The two board members who voted in opposition, according to the committee chairman, voted to express concern over the possibility of an “inappropriate” candidate coming before the board in the future, which we find to be somewhat disingenuous, but nothing can be unanimous, right?) The council would consider approving Kurt Vonnegut Way in October if council Member Daniel Garodnick, who represents the neighborhood, brings the street renaming request before the council’s Parks Committee.

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Kurt Vonnegut Dead at Age of 84

Kurt Vonnegut, whose 14 satirical, inventive novels influenced countless writers, readers and thinkers in his wake, died last night in Manhattan. His wife, Jill Krementz, told the New York Times that Vonnegut died as a result of complications from a fall several weeks ago that caused irreversible brain injuries.

I wish I had something more coherent to say than remark on Vonnegut’s brilliance (especially in SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE) his ability to address themes in a both provocative and informed way with more than a dollop of black humor. I suspect Ron will have more on tap later, but for the moment, the following links will no doubt help in Vonnegut remembrance:

And the NBCC Awards Go To…

While NBCC Board member Rebecca Skloot liveblogged the awards, Ron and I sat through a somewhat speedy ceremony emceed by president John Freeman and highlighted by Mary Gordon‘s glowing retrospective and tribute (accompanied by retro Jill Krementz photography) to Sandrof winner John Leonard, followed by Leonard’s own words, a speech so filled with mirth, self-deprecation and reflections on present and past reviewing that I hope the transcript is made publicly available at some point. Nona Balakian winner Steven G. Kellman was a quote-a-minute, namechecking the gamut from H.L. Mencken (who had unkind words about criticism and even more scathing words about poetry – partly because of a volume he himself had written and then done everything in his power to squelch) to Lily Tomlin (“we’re all in this together – alone,” as applied to book critics, who Kellman quipped “are the only critics who can do their job in their underwear.”)

Then came the awards:

Criticism: Lawrence Weschler, EVERYTHING THAT RISES: A BOOK OF CONVERGENCES (McSweeney’s)
Poetry: Troy Jollimore, TOM THOMSON IN PURGATORY (Margie/Intuit House)
Non-Fiction: Simon Schama, ROUGH CROSSINGS: BRITAIN, SLAVES AND THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION (Ecco)
Biography: Julie Phillips
, JAMES TIPTREE, JR.: THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ALICE B. SHELDON (St. Martin’s Press)
Autobiography: Daniel Mendelsohn, THE LOST (HarperCollins)
Fiction: Kiran Desai, THE INHERITANCE OF LOSS (Atlantic Monthly Press)

It’s an award winner list of some surprise – Jollimore’s win especially surprised the poetry faithful in the audience – and some that might have seemed like a surprise, like Desai, but on further reflection are just about right. Ron’s got more about notable quotes and the afterparty, but I’m especially happy to have chatted with John Leonard about his new prize, his belief that literary blogs are “where the passion is” and finding good books to read that might be off most people’s radar. It doesn’t get much better than that.