Pub. Date: 2011
Publisher: Delacorte Press, an imprint of The Random House publishing Group
Type: Short Stories ~ Library Book
The 16 previously unpublished short stories of this collection, taken from the beginning of Vonnegut’s career, show a young author already grappling with themes and ideas that would define his work for decades to come.
“Girl Pool” features typist Amy Lou Little, employee of the Kafkaesque Montezuma Forge and Foundry Company, who is tasked with transcribing a plea for help she receives on her Dictaphone from an escaped, dying murderer hiding somewhere in the works of the company’s cavernous factory. The tale reveals Vonnegut investigating one of his recurring themes: the isolation brought by technology and the necessity for basic humanity in the workplace.
The title story melds a sentimental meditation on the true meaning of Christmas with elements of the mystery genre as a hard-nosed reporter stalks the story of stolen nativity scene characters.
While these early stories show an author still testing the boundaries of his craft and obsessions, Vonnegut’s acute moral sense and knack for compelling prose are very much on display. In the foreword, Dave Eggers calls Vonnegut “a hippie Mark Twain,” which perfectly captures an essential truth about this esteemed author.
Since I agreed to read and review a biography about Kurt Vonnegut I checked out some books of his from the library. First let me say that the only thing I knew about Vonnegut was that he wrote “Slaughterhouse Five” and I didn’t even know what it was about, from reading different descriptions, I get the impression is it science fiction. I decided to read this book first since it satisfies both of my challenges for this year. A library book and a book of short stories.
While these stories would not be described as thrillers or suspense, and there are no ‘plot twists’ in them, at times the reader gets thrown a curve, sometimes you see the curve coming, even so they are still interesting to read and I quite enjoyed them. Even the ones that seem to be ‘straightforward’ have a bit of a twist to them. I would say, for me at least, that none of these stories are predictable or are ‘cookie cutter’ stories.
Maybe you’d be interested in my biography of Vonnegut, just out. Here’s the NYT review: