But what was his favorite color?

Readers respond to an interview with Kurt Vonnegut and Merle Kessler's slash fiction article.


Salon Staff
December 18, 2001 1:00AM (UTC)

Read "Kurt Vonnegut: 'My God, Vesuvius Has Erupted Again!'" by Christopher Kemp

Alas, I don't think I'd take Christopher Kemp seriously were he 44, 88 or 122 years old. When Salon runs an interview with a writer and thinker as wise and smart as Kurt Vonnegut, I expect better questions than the random inquiries posed by Kemp. This is an interview with no shape or structure whatsoever. The inquiries don't build off each other, and as a result the answers don't seem to lead anywhere; it reads as though the interviewer was simply running down a list of questions with no interest in exploring any of Vonnegut's responses. No wonder Kurt wraps up the interview with all those curt little replies. He probably wanted to get off the phone before Kemp asked him what his favorite color was.

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-- Chris Green

Thank you for the interview with Kurt Vonnegut by Christopher Kemp. Vonnegut has been an inspiration to all of us "freethinkers" out there since the novel "Player Piano." Vonnegut's humor and observations of the absurdities of life, as described in his writings, are continually a joy to read. Vonnegut will always live on in the hearts and, most important, the minds of all of us. Vonnegut helped teach a generation how to think. What could be a better legacy than that?

-- Paul Sherard

Kurt Vonnegut is always full of surprises. Despite his hatred of war and his frequent condemnations of U.S. foreign policy, I'll always remember Vonnegut as a man who warned me never to be a traitor to my country.

Twenty years ago, I produced a documentary for public television called "Broken Arrow," an exposé of U.S. nuclear weapons accidents. While making the film, my crew and I entered, unmolested, an unmarked portion of a U.S. navy base in the San Francisco Bay Area and photographed what was clearly a nuclear weapons bunker under construction. We were arrested by base guards and the FBI confiscated our film. An overzealous and underinformed U.S. attorney threatened to prosecute us for trespassing and, incredibly, espionage!

In the end, the government dropped all charges, and our report went on to win many awards. Accepting the George Polk award at a ceremony in New York, I joked that I knew the Reagan administration despised public television, but I hadn't realized until they threatened to prosecute me for espionage that they considered PBS to be the equivalent of a hostile foreign power.

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After the ceremony, Kurt Vonnegut approached me -- unmistakable -- a tall, ambling, disheveled man in a corduroy jacket with patches on the elbows and cigarette ashes on the sleeves. As an admirer of his anti-establishment novels and his left-liberal politics, I imagined he was about to congratulate me. Instead he fixed me with a rather stern gaze, put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Whatever you do, never betray your country."

And then he walked away.

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It was not what I expected to hear from the author of "Slaughterhouse-Five." And because it was so unexpected, it's a remark I've never forgotten.

As critical of my country as I remain, I have also come to realize it was very sound advice.

-- Stephen Talbot, San Francisco

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Read "Porn -- for the Rest of Us" by Merle Kessler

Someone pointed my attention to this article, assuring me that it was both "short and dumb" as well as being significantly inaccurate. (Your site gets recommended in the strangest ways. I think that means you're doing something right.)

The individual who wrote this piece made a surprisingly casual leap from the pairing of fictional characters to the pairing of real people.

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There's a huge difference between speculating about shenanigans, sexual or otherwise, between imaginary characters and taking liberties with the lives and lifestyles of real people.

Writing slash about real people is offensive. Most people also think that writing slash about underage children is also offensive, even if those children are fictional characters.

On the whole, though, the Elmer Fudd bit was pretty darned funny. Merle just may have a future writing slash!

Of course, the pay is nonexistent, the media makes fun of you and you probably won't be able to tell your mother what you do with your spare time, but on the plus side .... let me get back to you about that, OK?

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-- Anne

I just read an article about slash fan fiction and I was extremely appalled at the narrow-minded and snide comments from the writer of this article. Slash was referred to as "porn" a couple of times in that article. Since when did all homosexual relationships in a story become classified as porn? Any type of relationship can be porn if written so, but that doesn't make it ALL smutty.

At the end of the article was an extremely snide and mocking opinion of slash fan fiction (the fill-in-the-blank sequence), which is an insult to any writer of male/male pairings. I have read only a few pieces featuring gay relationships and they were as well-written as any other type of story I've read and enjoyed. There is absolutely nothing wrong with homosexuality. Why should there be a problem with stories about it?

-- Caly

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Slash has been getting a great deal of attention lately, along with equal amounts of flak. The recent Harry Potter phenomenon and the slash community ran headlong into one another and people were finding Harry Potter slash, quite by accident. I read an article from another online publication, vilifying slash as porn, as the puerile objectification of children, etc., as sexual objects. That's just the thing. A great many slashers are against chan fic (fan fiction in which the characters are 15 years of age or younger), and would never read it, let alone write it. But, then again, everyone has their own taste. Some like Kirk/Spock, some fancy Giles/Oz, some like Mulder/Krycek. And while I may not understand some slashers' interests in writing Harry Potter slash, I'm not about to tell them they don't have the right to write it. Technically, no, they don't have the right -- as the characters are copyrighted -- but that's another example of how slash and fan fiction in general falls into the gray area.

The Harry Potter slash fandom -- and, indeed, slash as a whole -- may be new to some people, but for slashers on the Net, it was nothing more than a natural progression.

-- Jainie

Finally! Someone that is not closed-minded and nasty about slash. It's about time, and I have to say, you have single-handedly restored my faith in journalism.

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As a slash writer, I have read many articles on this topic that have been not only closed-minded, but homophobic, poorly written and just unrehearsed. They blatantly take excerpts out of "Irresistible Poison" and switch it around to suit their own foul purposes.

This article is not only funny, but it is well done. You have shown that you are a true journalist by doing real reporting.

"IP" has a large fan base, as well it should. But most don't realize that. They see a male/male relationships and think "porn." But for those who have read "IP", we know that it is not porn at all. It's beautifully written, smart, funny and contains no sex to speak of. But of course, it involves two males, so it has to be porn. Hypocrites. When men see female/female writing the common response is, "Hey there Zeek! It's two lesbins ... no wait ... loosbeens ... hold on a tick ... aw hell, two girls are kissin'."

Well there is also some girl/girl in HP fandom, but I have yet to see an article on that.

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I'd like to thank the wonderful person who wrote this article, and gave "IP" a chance.

-- Natasha


Salon Staff

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