Kurt Vonnegut at the Writers’ Workshop

From The Brooklyn Rail:

I was a student of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and we remained in touch from those years until his death. Vonnegut was not famous, when he taught there. He’d published four novels; Cat’s Cradle had been published two years before but had not yet become a contemporary classic. He was working on Slaughterhouse Five. He was no more or less awesome than other writers teaching at the workshop – Vance Bourjaily, Nelson Algren, Jose Donoso, William Price Fox, Eugene Garber, and Richard Yates. But he was my favorite.

What was Kurt like in class as a teacher?

He was passionate, indignant. He wheezed with laughter. He laughed at his own jokes. He was practical. He was shy. He amused himself, during workshops, by doodling. He was kind. He was entertaining. He was smart.

The first time I saw him (and I didn’t know who he was, hadn’t read his novels), he struck my funny bone. He stood in front of a huge lecture hall with all the other writers. He was tall, with curving shoulders (a man shaped like a banana, as he once described himself), and he was smoking a cigarette in a long black cigarette holder, tilting his head and exhaling smoke, with a clear awareness of the absurdity and affectedness of it: in other words, he had ­– as Oscar Wilde said is the first duty in life – assumed a pose.

Romney vs. Gay Vietnam Vet

From The Washington Post:

The exchange began when the GOP presidential candidate stopped at Chez Vachon in Manchester. Romney was in the restaurant campaigning with Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, who officially endorsed Romney here Monday.

While working the room, Romney spotted a man in a flannel shirt wearing a Vietnam Veteran hat and slid in next to him in a booth.

“Vietnam veteran!” Romney greeted Bob Garon.

“I have a question for you,” Garon told the former Massachusetts governor. “New Hampshire right now has some legislation kicking around about a repeal for the same-sex marriage. And all I need is a yes or a no. Do you support the repeal?”

“I support the repeal of the New Hampshire law,” Romney said. “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s my view.”

Garon, who lives in Epsom, N.H., and was eating breakfast with his husband, turned to Romney and said: “If two men get married, apparently a veteran’s spouse would not be entitled to any burial benefits or medical benefits or anything that the serviceman has devoted his time and effort to his country, and you just don’t support equality in terms of same-sex marriage?”

“I believe that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman,” Romney replied, adding, “and we apparently disagree.”

At that, a Romney aide called for him to wrap up the conversation: “Governor, we’ve got to get on with Fox News right now.”

“Oh, I guess the question was too hot,” Garon told Romney.

“No, I gave you the answer,” Romney replied. “You said you had a yes-or-no . I gave you the answer.”

“You did,” Garon said. “And I appreciate your answer. And you know, I also learned something, and New Hampshire is right: You have to look a man in the eye to get a good answer. And you know what, governor? Good luck…. You’re going to need it.”

“You are right about that,” Romney said, as he stood up from the booth and headed into a side room for his interview.