Ryan's Reviews > Welcome to the Monkey House

Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut
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Nov 06, 11

bookshelves: favorites, fic-satire, fic-speculative, fic-weird, fic-literary
Read in January, 2007

In my mind, Kurt Vonnegut is the writerly equivalent to an eccentric, sarcastic, but kindly old uncle, the one you can always count on to take the stuffing out of your more puffed-up, less agile-minded relatives at family Christmas parties, while giving you a sly wink. In an important way, he was a voice for America in the 1950s and 60s, both a counterpoint to and a commenter on "mainstream" attitudes. He could do zaniness, anger, sorrow, and gentleness equally well.

This collection is a fine intro to what made the man great. A few stories fall a little flat, and a few feel dated, but most still resonate in one way or another. In style, they range from memoir to science fiction to allegory to absurd satire to"straight" fiction, which make them interesting as a prismatic breakdown of the eccentric, eclectic voice Vonnegut uses in his longer works. My own favorite story was a poignant piece about a half-black German orphan who encounters a unit of black American GIs in post-WWII Europe, and the friendship he forms with a particular soldier.
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