Brow Beat

Kurt Vonnegut Opens Up About His Childhood in This Lovely Animated Lecture

Animated video series Blank on Blank always supplies unique, off-kilter insight into the lives of celebrities, and its latest installment is no different: It allows viewers to be a fly on the wall for a digressive, unusually personal talk Kurt Vonnegut gave to a classroom of NYU students on November 6, 1970.

At the time, the author had just published Slaughterhouse Five, and its ensuing popularity made him an extremely in-demand speaker on the college circuit. The NYU lecture, though, marks one of the few moments Vonnegut opened up about his childhood: He reminisces about Ida Young, the maid who raised him, and reflects on his mother’s mental breakdown and subsequent suicide, a struggle he was for a long time ashamed to discuss in public.