Kurt Vonnegut’s brilliant, brief career at Sports Illustrated: “He was not good at being an employee”

Kurt Vonnegut (photo courtesy of Random House)

Slaughterhouse Five is one of my all-time favorite books. But I hadn’t known that Vonnegut was also one of the finest sportswriters to have graced equestrianism:

From the introduction – written by his son, Mark: – to his posthumous work, Armageddon in Retrospect:

He often said he had to be a writer because he wasn’t good at anything else.

He was not good at being an employee.

Back in the mid-1950s, he was employed by Sports Illustrated, briefly. He reported to work, was asked to write a short piece on a racehorse that had jumped over a fence and tried to run away. Kurt stared at the blank piece of paper all morning and then typed, “The horse jumped over the fucking fence,” and walked out, self-employed again.

I'm a programmer journalist, currently teaching computational journalism at Stanford University. I'm trying to do my new blogging at blog.danwin.com.