Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut Reading Marathon Held at Ball State's Bracken Library

On Thursday, October 4, 2007, nearly 60 visitors to Bracken Library stopped by the second floor conference room where the English Department’s Graduate Student Advisory Board (GSAB) held a Kurt Vonnegut Marathon Reading, called So It Goes … Vonnegut Marathon, featuring 12 solid hours of reading, food, and prizes.

Attendees, who were welcomed throughout the day and into the night, enjoyed readings by over 20 GSAB members from Kurt Vonnegut’s Welcome to the Monkey House, Slaughterhouse-Five, and Breakfast of Champions.

Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) was a Hoosier native born in Indianapolis. He was a world-renown author. His work, which includes 15 novels and scores of short stories, plays, and essays, is characterized by biting wit and wisdom couched in the fantastic, humorous, and violent. Uniquely blending slapstick and subversion, Vonnegut is a keen analyst of the post-war human condition, and his literary pieces reflect his revelatory insights into the alienation of modern life.

The general appeal of Vonnegut’s work, his Hoosier roots, and his recent death in April 2007 made Vonnegut an obvious choice for the reading marathon. “We wanted to celebrate a well-known local author,” said Nikki Caswell, president of the GSAB, “and the library seemed like the perfect location. It is a location that many students, staff, and faculty visit throughout the day and a place with which the community is familiar.”

The location of the event in the Dean of University Libraries’ Conference Room, located at the top of Bracken’s beautiful spiral staircase, afforded the group great visibility, and many passersbys paused to listen outside the room.

Volunteers were scheduled to read in half-hour segments with a roster of back-up volunteers on call should someone not be able to fulfill their time slot. There were 20 community organizations that provided financial donations and door prizes, which were given away every hour. The presentations were punctuated by laughter and applause as a rotating audience of students, faculty, and staff relaxed in the space and enjoyed a cup of coffee or a soda, collected raffled prizes from local sponsors, and participated in the social ambience of the engaging and animated readings.

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