Kurt Vonnegut had many endearing qualities, one being that he liked to travel to universities where he delivered a talk called “How To Get A Job Like Mine.” The substance, however, was always different, and the conversation often didn’t focus on the writing life, or anything like it. The talk was really a vessel for whatever happened to be on Vonnegut’s mind, and it probably wasn’t uncommon for him to meander through his talk, as he did here, then pause and say, “Now, let’s see what the hell else I’ve got here. Where did I even start? I don’t know.”
This particular talk comes from Vonnegut’s 2002 visit to Albion College, where he accepted an honorary doctorate. The talk will give you a glimpse into the quirky personality that was Vonnegut’s, some non sequiturs on sex & gender, anecdotes about his uncle Alex, and then a few heartfelt thoughts on the life worth living. At the 38th minute, we finally get to writing, or something remotely approaching it. Vonnegut was known for giving a humorous spiel on the “shape” or “blueprint” of the story, explaining what Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Cinderella all have in common. If you want to zero in on that famous bit, feel free to jump ahead. But be warned that you’ll be missing a lot of sweet randomness and good fun. Part 1 appears above. Here are the remaining parts: 2, 3, 4, 5.