Some learned though his books, others from the man. John Irving studied at the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop in the 1960s, when Vonnegut was a faculty member then known, and often dismissed, as a science fiction writer.
Irving, who went on to write "The World According to Garp" and "The Cider House Rules," remembered Vonnegut as a self-effacing presence who "didn't have an agenda about what `the novel' should be." Vonnegut also appreciated that you didn't have to be in the classroom to get your work done.
"I had a young child at the time and when he heard about that he said, `You mean you have to work in writing whenever you can?'" Irving explained. "He then told me, `You're certainly giving me enough pages every week, so why not forget about the class part and stay home and take[ care ]of your kid?'"