Look at the Birdie
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Look at the Birdie

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  3,930 ratings  ·  385 reviews
Look at the Birdie collects 14 short stories from an original writer in American fiction. This series of vignettes, never published in Vonnegut’s lifetime, reveals a warm, wise & funny portrait of life in post–WWII America--a world where squabbling couples, high school geniuses, misfit office workers & small-town lotharios struggle to adapt to changing technology,...more
ebook, 8 pages
Published October 20th 2009 by Delacorte Press (first published 2009)
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JSou
Kurt Vonnegut has always been one of my favorite authors; he was one of the very first writers that was able to change the way I think. I had always loved books, but after my first encounter with KV in high school, I amazingly realized what a novel could actually do. But it's more than than that. Vonnegut has always reminded me of my grandpa, though thinking about it, I'm not really sure why. The only things I know of that they had in common were their age, WWII, and Pall Mall cigarettes.

Maybe...more
Abhinav
THIS IS AMAZING.

Put that on repeat 13 more times - for all the 14 short stories in this compilation.

Like I said in my only status update while reading this, it seems unbelievable that these stories, written in the early part of Vonnegut's career, never saw the light of day until two years after his death. This is the second such compilation of short fiction by him published posthumously (four have been released till date, the first being 'Armageddon in Retrospect').

I happened to read somewhere t...more
William Thomas
When I was 16 and started working my way through the Vonnegut library, the man could do no wrong. That is, until I turned 22 and read Jailbird. What an awful piece of shit that book turned out to be.

And now that I've read all of his major and minor works, save some of his post-Timequake work, I can stand back and analyze it without being so starry-eyed as I was in younger years. Even though he was my first literary love, and will always be number one in my heart, I can honestly say that these w...more
Christine
Jun 03, 2011 Christine rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Vonnegut Fans
Disclaimer: If you’re new to Kurt Vonnegut and his canon, Look at the Birdie is not where you start. These are short stories that went unpublished during his long life and illustrious career. Vonnegut wrote 14 novels and several short story collections: if you are familiar with those, then this is where you continue your reading.


He died in 2007; some of his short stories were never published, whether by accidental omission or by virtue of his disdain for them. I found one bit of the Foreword by...more
Amanda
I have been a Vonnegut fan for years, and just recently received and read this collection of his earlier short stories. And though the San Francisco Chronicle commented that "it seems Vonnegut is working out the kinks in these early attempts," quite frankly, I think it may be my favorite Vonnegut work, and to think it went unpublished for so long is astonishing. Unlike many of his stories, which I find well-written, ironic, hilarious, and cynical, this piece is well-written, ironic, hilarious......more
Erik Ferguson
I'll try to avoid spending too much time dwelling on what's already been said about how amazing it is to read for the first time this collection of stories written while Vonnegut was still working for GE. But for just one small point: it is, in fact, important to note that the raw materials with which Vonnegut worked throughout his career -- especially the elements of disillusionment with larger Systems of which his characters find themselves a part; and, unfortunately, themes of some distortion...more
Alan Chen
Vonnegut is one of those rare talents that is a master of both novels and short stories. I admire both forms of prose but find that where one succeeds in one field, it rarely translate to the other. His short stories have well filled out characters with a tightly told story that leaves to a satisfying conclusion. In a short pages you gain an understanding of the main characters, their plight, and a punchy ending that ties everything together. Needless to say but I'm a fan.
Matt
Sometimes you wish families wouldn't release writers' work posthumously, but in this case, it was a beautiful thing to do.
Here's a collection of short stories from "Early Kurt." Nothing is told in first person, and the familiar voice of his well-known books is barely there. But if you know his work you'll spot a few things: the unmistakable "um" given as a response by a character to ominously dumb statements (at least three times in this collection). The surprising absence of profanity (Vonnegu...more
trina
May 14, 2010 trina rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: appreciators of fine short stories/vonnegut
god i miss this man. just knowing he's not in the world anymore makes me sad. this collection, like the rest of his work, is extremely good, while being, i thought, quite unlike the rest of his work in many subtle ways. the black humor is there, the cutting insight on civilization and human nature is sharp as ever, and the thread of compassion that is his trademark runs, of course, through every story. but these stories are simpler than those he's well known for, and tend more towards the optimi...more
Keith
Dec 31, 2010 Keith rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Keith by: Mike Wertheim
This was my introduction to Vonnegut, and I'd say it was a good one. I've read quite a bit of 20th century short fiction, so it's hard to surprise me since the genre is given to certain formulaic tropes, but this one managed to do so if for no other reason that the twist at the end of several stories went in a completely different direction than I expected. I suppose this is a hallmark of what people call Vonnegut's inimitable style.

It's hard to really pick favorites here, as the quality of the...more
Joel
A posthumous collection of short stories by a master of the form, this book is at worst a collection of solid B-sides from your favorite band. I can't help but feel Kurt wouldn't have published these himself, striving for perfection as he did, but I'm plenty thankful to have them.

If I had to call out weak pieces, they would be 'Shout it from the Housetops' and 'Hall of Mirrors'- that still leaves you with 12 stories ranging from good to incredible in this compact volume.

Reading 'Ed Luby's Key Cl...more
Derek Baldwin
The 3 stars, if I am honest, are padded out with sentiment. Am and always have been a massive fan of Kurt Vonnegut but seldom enjoy reading short stories. Some of his, in Welcome To The Monkeyhouse for instance, are fine...but I think there were probably sound reasons why these ones were "previously unpublished..."



One clue might be the reproduction of a letter from Kurt to a friend written in the 1950s which prefaces the stories. The gist of what he says is "I write because it earns me and my a...more
Derek Wolfgram
There was an article in the Washington Post a couple weeks ago about the estates of prominent authors (in this case, Douglas Adams, A.A. Milne, and Bram Stoker) hiring folks to write "authorized" sequels. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/... God help us if Vonnegut's estate ever follows this path.

That being said, how can the world not be made a better place by the publication of more Vonnegut? His incredible wit, intense humanism, and insight into the human character were unparalleled. Chan...more
Tzeck
"Виж пилето" е една много интересна подборка от къси разкази, писани от Вонегът далеч преди да напише дори първия си роман. Стилът му също е далеч от себе си. Много от разказите зглеждат някак непълни и недовършени. Определено това е книга само за Вонегът-маниаци. И определено тя ще им се хареса много! Както се хареса и на мен. Има някакво странно и сладко очарование, в това да четеш любимия си автор, все още търсещ себе си, избистрящ поривите и терзанията си, почистващ праха и листата, постилащ...more
Carol
Why these stories went unpublished is hard to answer. They’re polished, they’re relentlessly fun to read, and every last one of them comes to a neat and satisfying end. For transmittal of moral instruction, they are incredibly efficient delivery devices.
The 14 stories in “Look at the Birdie,” none of them afraid to entertain, dabble in whodunnitry, science fiction and commanding fables of good versus evil. They are polished and fun to read; every last one of them comes to a neat and satisfying...more
Bonnie
Vonnegut has a very surreal way of writing about what might be otherwise-normal situations; there's always an element of "Where did THAT come from? Seriously?" in each of his stories, but it seems to make perfect sense, in the end. After reading a book of his, I feel disappointed picking up almost any other book for a while. Shirley Jackson's another author who has this effect on my reading habits.

Regarding this book, specifically, it's absolutely perfect for waiting rooms - each story took me a...more
Aaron
Like most Vonnegut, these previously unpublished shorts capture a sentiment that is both accessible and thought provoking. All the suspense and readability of a dime novel but with a punch of reality that transcends general entertainment value. Not all of the stories capture lightning in a bottle. Occasionally I reached the end of a story that sort of plateaued without the kind of complex and conflicted resolution that mark's the Vonnegutian wit. That's to be expected, I suppose, as even the bes...more
John
It is inevitable that when an author of Kurt Vonnegut's stature passes away, every scrap attributable to him will be pulled from the back of the pantry for consumption by an insatiable public. We can forgive the impulse to want more from a wellspring which has been so deeply nourishing. But our hunger is rarely satisfied by the leftovers, and "Look at the Birdie" is no exception.

The New York Times Book Review is quoted, on the front page, as follows: "Why these stories went unpublished is hard t...more
Andrew
So refreshing to read a slew of new Vonnegut stories, though I am unclear as to which (if all) of these were published. I also greatly wish there was a year given for most of these stories, as they all seem to be from the 50's or earlier, when Vonnegut was just starting out.

The gem, to me, is "Ed Luby's Key Club," which perfectly exemplifies Kurt's personal theory on writing: let the worst thing happen to your characters at each turn. It reads like a paranoiac Philip K Dick story, only with a ha...more
Tesia  Quinn
Quick, easy reads. Love the way KV writes, can make anything entertaining. Some of these stories I absolutely loved, some not so much. But he could right about a kitchen table, and it'd still be worth a read.


"The summer had died peacefully in it's sleep, and Autumn, as soft-spoken executrix, was locking life up safely until Spring came to claim it." Confido

"The unrelenting brilliance of Schroeder's thoughts gave him an alarming aspect that had been best described by Hal Bourbeau, the chemistry...more
Linda Robinson
May 01, 2010 Linda Robinson marked it as will-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't do it. This collection was published posthumously. Vonnegut had an incredibly discerning sense of what would/should/could publish, and to have this sent out there - short stories from his early days; even some from before he left GE - feels like an invasion of privacy. If he'd wanted these published, he would have made sure it happened. Can't finish this. too much respect for this incredible, precious and brilliant author.
Addie
As with most collections of short stories, there is good and there is bad. But one of the many reasons why Kurt Vonnegut was so brilliant can be showcased perfectly by this little gem of an opening paragraph:

I was sitting in a bar one night, talking rather loudly about a person I hated – and a man with a beard sat down beside me, and he said amiably, “Why don’t you have him killed?”

And that's all I need.
Nicki
A collection of good, enjoyable to read short stories by my favorite author that I just loved. Some were better than others, and it was obvious why some of them had previously gone unpublished, but the ones that were good were pure Vonnegut perfection. "King and Queen of the Universe" was especially beautiful.
Elsie Klumpner
I was the last person living of the 50s 60s generation not to have read any of Kurt Vonnegut. I laughed out loud reading this book. It is twisted and funny and weird. I can't compare it to his novels but each story was a gem.
Kaethe
Jul 14, 2014 Kaethe marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
You know, there's a reason why this pieces weren't published in his lifetime. I don't want to read them all so that I can explain, in detail, the failings of each. I prefer to revel in the really good stuff.
Jessiqa
Kurt Vonnegut is one of my all-time favorite authors. I bought this collection as soon as I heard of it's existence and finally got around to it a few weeks ago. The stories included were all terrific. As with all of his work, these stories span a range of genres, from thriller to science-fiction to fantasy to mystery. I particularly enjoyed the story in which the main characters finds a tiny spaceship filled with tiny explorers. The whimsy involved is great and yet sad. I suppose that's a theme...more
Susan Wingate
Vonnegut can do no wrong, in my humble opinion! -Susan :)
Jamie Schoffman
I was saving this one for a number of years, as it was the last piece of Vonnegut literature that I hadn't read. As I was reading this one, I was repeatedly struck by how great a writer Vonnegut was. His satirical prose, his black humor, were never more apparent than in Look at the Birdie. I'm sure if he were alive, these stories would still not have been published, as they lack some of the polish that most Vonnegut stories have. However, this work still adds to the Vonnegut lexicon and is a val...more
Nicole Rosito
My third Vonnegut, how exciting. This is the summer of try-to-finish-all-the-Vonnegut-I-own-and-a-billion-other-books-before-classes-start, and so far I've read 2/5, so not bad. Some of the stories in here were really brilliant. A few of my favorites were The Petrified Ants, The Hall of Mirrors, The King and Queen of the Universe, but they were all great in their own ways. The illustrations done by Vonnegut himself are also fantastic and interesting, and the themes addressed in this short story...more
Pedro Benitez
When I read Possible Side Effects, by Augusten Burroughs, I was mesmerized by the short-story collection format in his writing. Each story was independent, and drew you in, and when I finished reading, I felt satisfaction and the desire to continue.

Look at the Birdie, by Vonnegut, is also a collection of short stories. While Burroughs drew me in with humor, Vonnegut drew me in with perspective. Each story is different, and there is no consistent theme. After all, it is all unpublished ficion. Y...more
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Kurt Vonnegut, Junior was an American novelist, satirist, and most recently, graphic artist. He was recognized as New York State Author for 2001-2003.

He was born in Indianapolis, later the setting for many of his novels. He attended Cornell University from 1941 to 1943, where he wrote a column for the student newspaper, the Cornell Daily Sun. Vonnegut trained as a chemist and worked as a journali...more
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“The Summer had died peacefully in its sleep, and Autumn, as soft-spoken executrix, was locking life up safely until Spring came to claim it.” 6 likes
“He became fubar in the classic way, which is to say that he was the victim of a temporary arrangement that became permanent.” 6 likes
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