Books: Cultural History
We Never Danced Cheek to Cheek: The Young Kurt Vonnegut in Indianapolis and Beyond
Kurt Vonnegut’s hometown of Indianapolis affected his life and writing in significant ways, from settings in books to viewpoints and speech patterns. Certainly his attitude towards his hometown and state evolved. Vonnegut went through phases of appreciation for his home and high school in nostalgic moments to distrust and distaste for everything Hoosier at moments when he felt his writing had been rejected.
Hawthorne’s new release We Never Danced Cheek to Cheek: The Young Kurt Vonnegut in Indianapolis and Beyond by Majie Failey is a journey through the life of this member of the Class of 1940—with all of its carefree existence and its abrupt graduation into war. This book by one of Kurt’s lifelong, closest friends digs deeply into intimate moments, days, and years of the famous writer’s youth. Here are stories and photos never before seen from scrapbooks, issues of the Shortridge Echo where Kurt was an editor, childhood art and writing pieces, journals from his Owls Club road trips to the far west and Florida and insights into his family. And beyond high school, this is the story of the consistent, kind concern of this Pulitzer-Prize winning author for his old friends, the support he gave as the Class of ’40 all grew older, and bittersweet moments as he himself confided his concerns over career and aging to his friends.
This is a sometimes rollicking, often poignant look behind the doors of schools, playgrounds, and the sunny porches of friends to see what Kurt Vonnegut the boy and man was really like as a human being.