INTERVIEWERLet’s talk about the women in your books.
VONNEGUTThere aren’t any. No real women, no love.
INTERVIEWERIs this worth expounding upon?
VONNEGUTIt’s a mechanical problem. So much of what happens in storytelling is mechanical, has to do with the technical problems of how to make a story work. Cowboy stories and policeman stories end in shoot-outs, for example, because shoot-outs are the most reliable mechanisms for making such stories end. There is nothing like death to say what is always such an artificial thing to say: “The end.” I try to keep deep love out of my stories because, once that particular subject comes up, it is almost impossible to talk about anything else. Readers don’t want to hear about anything else. They go gaga about love. If a lover in a story wins his true love, that’s the end of the tale, even if World War III is about to begin, and the sky is black with flying saucers.
INTERVIEWERSo you keep love out.
VONNEGUTI have other things I want to talk about. Ralph Ellison did the same thing in Invisible Man. If the hero in that magnificent book had found somebody worth loving, somebody who was crazy about him, that would have been the end of the story. Céline did the same thing in Journey to the End of Night: he excluded the possibility of true and final love—so that the story could go on and on and on.
INTERVIEWERNot many writers talk about the mechanics of stories.
VONNEGUTI am such a barbarous technocrat that I believe they can be tinkered with like Model T Fords.
INTERVIEWERTo what end?
VONNEGUTTo give the reader pleasure.
Fra The Paris Review, The Art of Fition No. 64