Am 14. September 2015 erhielt der Autor und Vlogbrother John Green den Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Literature Award der Indianapolis Public Library. Bevor ihm der Preis überreicht wurde hielt er eine Rede über Kurt Vonnegut Jr. und beantwortete Fragen des Publikums. Im Rahmen von One Book Two Cities und in Kooperation mit dem Amerika Haus e.V. NRW und dem Freundeskreis Köln-Indianapolis e.V. wurde die Preisverleihung in den Veranstaltungssaal unserer Zentralbibliothek übertragen. Per Skype schwebte John Green über der Bühne und wandte sich immer wieder direkt an das deutsche Publikum.
Im Vorfeld der Veranstaltung hatten wir euch dazu aufgerufen, Fragen an John Green zu stellen. Unter den Einreichungen, die bei uns und dem Amerika Haus e.V. NRW eingingen wurden 3 ausgesucht und an John Green weitergegeben. Durch seine sehr bewegenden Antwort auf eine Frage aus dem amerikanischen Publikum, die sich auf seine Kinder bezog, konnte eine der 3 deutschen Fragen nicht mehr beantwortet werden. Falls ihr mal die Möglichkeit habt, holt das doch nach und fragt ihn: „After finishing your book are you able to put the characters and their fates behind you or do they haunt you for a while?”
Hier seht ihr den gesamten Auftritt von John Green, samt der Fragerunde:
Und zum Nachlesen hier nun die Antworten auf die beiden Fragen aus Köln:
Which of your books is your favorite?
I don’t like any of them that much. [laughter] I don’t know. I mean, I am biased toward two I guess. I am biased toward the first one because it was the first one I wrote. It’s very autobiographical. It’s called Looking for Alaska. It’s a boarding school novel set in Alabama – I went to a boarding school in Alabama. My wife went to that same boarding school. It’s extremely close to me so it’s like a personal story and I think there is something … like, looking back on it there is a lot of this stuff in it that I don’t like but it was very raw and felt very real to me, I guess, when I was writing it. I felt deeply emotionally engaged in the story. And then I am also biased toward my most recent novel, the Fault in our Stars. Maybe because it’s my most recent novel but also just because I think it’s like technically considerably better than all of the other ones. But I don’t know. If anybody likes any of my books I am very grateful. Any of them being your favorite is an absolute delight to me because that means that you’ve read more than one. [laughter] One of the many interesting things that Vonnegut did: He used to write these books that were just like collections of speeches that he would give. By the way, I intend to replicate that. I think that’s a brilliant idea and I really loved those books when I was a kid. But anyway, one of the things that he did in one of those books was he gave all of his novels a grade. A to F. And he gave Slaughterhouse 5 an A+ which I’ve always thought of as hilarious, like, what kind of jackoff gives an A+ to his own novel? [laughter] I was trying to think of a word that wasn’t a curse word. I don’t think I quite got there. [laughter] But yeah, like, c’mon. I wouldn’t give none of my novels anything more than an A-. Although to be fair, Slaughterhouse 5 is considerably better than any of them so maybe I just don’t know what it’s like to write Slaughterhouse 5. Alright anyway, I did not answer your question.
What would your 15-year-old self think of you now?
It’s funny because my 15-year-old self would be much happier with my current life than I am. My 15-year-old self would be absolutely delighted. I’ve essentially done everything that my 15-year-old self ever wanted to do. Like I convinced a girl to fall in love with me, I wrote a novel, yeah, I have all of the things that my 15-year-old self wanted me to have. Oh, he would be horrified that I live in Indianapolis. [laughter] Oh my God. He would be like “But Why?” and I would be like “Oh it’s great. You know, there is the white river. It’s non-navigable and that is a really interesting metaphor”. He would be like “Are you kidding me? Could you live in New York?”. And I would be like “I could. It’s very expensive and stressful”. So yeah, I think he would be very happy with me. I will say this, though. I don’t think that you should invest too much thought into what your 15-year-old self would think of you because you are gonna change and not entirely for the worse.
Die 3 Fragensteller erhielten jeweils eine handsignierte Ausgabe von Paper Towns, die ihnen live am Ende der Veranstaltung überreicht wurde.
Eine wunderbare, kurzweilige Veranstaltung mit einem überaus sympathischen, weltoffenen und einfühlsamen Autor.
Ein großes Dankeschön an John Green, die Indianapolis Public Library, das Amerika Haus e.V. NRW und den Freundeskreis Köln-Indianapolis e.V.!