Vintage Vonnegut - a unique collection of two dozen stories
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was born in Indianapolis in 1922 and studied biochemistry at Cornell University. During the Second World War he served in Europe and, as a prisoner of war in Germany, witnessed the destruction of Dresden by Allied bombers, an experience which inspired the canonic war novel Slaughterhouse-Five. He is the author of thirteen other novels, which include Cat's Cradle, Jailbird, Deadeye Dick, Galapagos and Bluebeard, two collections of stories, and three non-fiction books. He died in 2007.
In an amiable and lengthy introduction read by the author, Vonnegut sounds downright aged, undeniably wise and a bit wistful, conjuring up the time of his early writing career when he wrote these previously uncollected short stories for magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post and Argosy. Sparks of his youthful, mischievous humor soon break through, as he describes his time working first as a PR man for General Electric, then as a journeyman magazine writer. "Thanasphere," a SF outing about an astronaut who hears the voices of dead spirits in space, mocks Cold War-era scientists who were "amazed at nothing." Likewise, "To Be or Not to Be," with its future-view of enforced population control, shows Utopian ideals gone awry. Read in sensitive tones by Marshall (an actor who has narrated parts for animated series on TV), the stories' sly moods seem to build on their own. Based on the 1999 Putnam hardcover. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Back before the web and before TV, recreational activity included reading short stories in magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post. The 23 stories in this collection were published in magazines like the Post during the Fifties and are collected here for the first time. The topics covered include space travel ("Thanasphere"), which describes the first manned orbit of Earth; finding the American Dream ("The Package"), about a new home full of the latest accessories; and an attempt to impress an old girlfriend (the title story). Poking fun at pretentious individuals is featured in both "A Present for Big Saint Nick," where Christmas has been turned into a forced admiration society, and "The Powder Blue Dragon," in which the purchase of a fancy sports car is believed to be the key to a fantasy life. Although many of the stories are topically dated, the ironic insights and illumination of character are timeless, and no one does it better than Vonnegut. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/99.]ÄJoshua Cohen, Mid-Hudson Lib. System, Poughkeepsie, NY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
"A brilliant wacky ideas-monger" * Observer *
"A cool writer, at once throwaway and passionate and very funny" * Financial Times *
"One of the 20th century's finest humorists and humanists, a writer who has inherited HG Wells's visionary imagination and his gift for social commentary" * Sunday Times *