A Fan Story: How I Got a Signed Vonnegut


GalapagosYou may recall the short Q&A I did with Dan Wakefield, editor of Kurt Vonnegut: Letters. The Q&A was only one part of our conversation. I also shared a story with Wakefield about how I manged to get a novel signed by Kurt Vonnegut. feel a little embarrassed now about what I did, but Wakefield assured me that Vonnegut probably did get a kick out of it and that I should share the story with others. So here’s the story of how I managed to get my signed Vonnegut:

When I was in college, I was a bit of a Vonnegut evangelist, and the only thing in the world that I wanted more than to see him speak (a wish that would be fulfilled several years later – strange world) was a signed book.

This was pre-internet and I was limited to whatever printed resources that I could find to learn about the great man. I combed microfiche files, pulled magazine archives, etc. Imagine my disappointment when I finally learned that Mr. Vonnegut no longer signed books!

Still, I would not be deterred. His writing communicated an appreciate for the absurd, and with that in mind, I hatched a plan to get my signed Vonnegut.

I went to a local used bookstore and found a copy of Galapagos. Not any copy, mind you, but a used paperback in less than pristine condition. (I really didn’t have much of a choice then. I was very poor.) Anyway, my thoughts were that Vonnegut would find it amusing that someone would send a used paperback for him to sign – plus, he’d understand that it was obviously for my personal enjoyment – it wouldn’t be salable in that condition!

After getting the address of his agent, I sent it to him with a note begging for a signature. I forgot all about it after a while.

On the last week of my spring semester I received a small shipping envelope. I had no idea what it might be. I opened it up and inside I found my paperback – with Vonnegut’s signature just a few pages past the one with the “Used books! Trade two for one!” stamp that the shop owner had stamped into the book.

I’ve treasured it ever since.