beware, there be spoilers: the stories of Kurt Vonnegut

And so, some many months beyond my original time line, I am at last coming to the end of my 2018 reading project.  Earlier today, I finished the stories of Kurt Vonnegut, though I do still have his essays and non-fiction remaining on my bedside table.

I didn’t read the stories in their original published volumes, but rather I read Kurt Vonnegut Collected Stories, collected by Jerome Klinkowitz and Dan Wakefield, which has the advantages of including unpublished stories and of grouping them into rough thematic categories.

Vonnegut wrote a large number of stories, 98 by my count.  There are groups of stories that share settings and characters with each other and on occasion with his novels.  Some I’d read before, as Welcome to the Monkey House was a collection I remember reading several times.

One thing I did find very interesting is that even have read some of these stories before, and even though some of them were stories that resonated within me, I had forgotten it was Vonnegut who’d written them.  This applies to Harrison Bergeron in particular.  I suppose this is part of the power of literature, to capture an idea, and it is something that I think every author tries to do to some extent.  If you’ve read and remember the story, then you may see what I mean here, and if you haven’t or you don’t, then let me say it’s a story worth reading.

I will admit that as interesting as they are as character studies, I am less a fan of his mundane fiction, for lack of a better term, than I am of his speculative fiction.  But this I think just reflects my personal reading bias.

Vonnegut had a good feel for the sorts of questions that science will confront us with and he always had something interesting to say about them, such as his speculation in And On Your Left of the care and feeding of industrial research laboratories.

And there are some characters I will miss, like George Helmholtz, the band director, who carried with him echoes from my own past.  Perhaps this is one of the reasons so many of Vonnegut’s stories resonated, that they were ultimately connected with people we all might know or have known, and we can see a bit of ourselves captured in their stories.


~ by Jim Anderson on 26 May 2019.

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