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Bagombo Snuff Box

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  9,285 ratings  ·  352 reviews
New York, 1950. A young PR man working at General Electric sold his first magazine piece. By the time he'd sold his third, he decided to quit his job and join the likes of Salinger, Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Faulkner, and make a living as a full-time writer. That young man was Kurt Vonnegut.

Bagombo Snuff Box collects Vonnegut’s favourite stories from the postwar years that
Paperback, 295 pages
Published 2000 by Vintage (first published 1999)
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3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,285 ratings  ·  352 reviews

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Ahmad Sharabiani
Bagombo Snuff box: uncollected short fiction, Kurt Vonnegut
Bagombo Snuff Box is a collection of 23 short stories written by Kurt Vonnegut. The stories were originally published in US periodicals between 1950 and 1962. This collection was published in 1999 by G. P. Putnam's Sons.
Stories: "Thanasphere"; "Mnemonics"; "Any Reasonable Offer"; "The Package";"The No-Talent Kid"; "Poor Little Rich Town"; "Souvenir"; "The Cruise of the Jolly Roger"; "Custom-made Bride"; "Ambitious Sophomore"; "Bagombo Sn
Feb 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“A man sells something priceless for a price he can’t resist.”

The genre of short story is hit or miss with me. Kurt Vonnegut’s short stories are usually the same way. In his Introduction to this collection of “Buddhist catnaps” as Vonnegut calls all short stories, I am reminded why I love this writer so much. “Bagombo Snuff Box” is a collection of 23 stories that Vonnegut wrote during his days as a writer of short fiction peddling his wares to the various magazines of the day. Most were written
David Schaafsma
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Why don't you say, 'I am going to build a life for myself, for my time, and make it a work of art'?. . . Design your life like that Finnish carafe over there--clean, harmonious, alive with the cool, tart soul of truth in our time.”

A short collection of early short stories by Vonnegut, with an introduction by the author himself, which is the highlight of the collection, especially since I listened to it in the car. I only listened to this now because it was the only free Vonnegut collection I co
Jun 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I guess Vonnegut is known mostly for his novels, but I've always been a big fan of his short fiction. No one else seems to pack such vitality into so few pages, and this collection really highlights his versatility.

Some of the stories are humorous - a realtor learns a thing or two from some prospective buyers, a town comes to regret embracing an efficiency expert, and a mob Santa Claus receives a special present.

And some are bittersweet - a man attempts to pawn a wartime souvenir, a school ba
Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
For Kurt Vonnegut, I did not care for these stories. I know he got his start in science fiction, but maybe it’s my reluctance to love short stories?

I love everything Papa Kurt has written, but this just didn’t do it for me. I’m really disappointed about it.
Dec 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Creative Writing 101:
1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4. Every sentence must do one of two things-reveal character or advance the action.
5. Start as close to the end as possible.
6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them-in ord
MJ Nicholls
Mar 11, 2010 rated it liked it
A collection of Vonnegut's earliest work for '50s/60s periodicals.

As the Master himself points out in the marvellous introduction, these are embryonic stories, stylistically clumsy and written purely for financial gain.

This doesn't make the work any less playful and Vonnegutian, though the bulk of these stories have a more moralistic feel to them, and only shades of the postmodern hilarity he would become known for is evident throughout.

Thanasphere and 2BRO2B are the only sci-fi entries. The r
Hrishabh Chaudhary
Jun 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a surely, purely, coincidentally, appropriate title!

I say this, because this book is nothing short of a snuff box for a Vonnegut fan and that is how I have been using it for past 2 weeks. One or two stories a day to make my troubles drop away.

The book contains 23 wonderful stories, accompanied by a brilliant preface by Peter Reed ( author of at least 4 books on Vonnegut and his works) and an introduction by Kurt Vonnegut himself, which contains his eight rules for creative writing, out of w
Mar 18, 2007 rated it liked it
I don't care if you ever read this book, and in fact, though I know I did (and apparently gave it three stars several years ago), I don't remember anything from it except for the intro. Please allow me to reproduce a small chunk of that here:

Kurt Vonnegut's Creative Writing 101:
1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
3. Every character should want something, even if it is o
Jul 02, 2008 rated it liked it
This book is a collection of some of Vonnegut's earliest short stories, written for weekly and monthly magazines. They're interesting as a perspective on this era, when "serious" literary authors, or at least burgeoning ones, wrote for magazines, as well as writing full-length novels. They're also an interesting look into Vonnegut's earliest writing style (although he admits in a postscript that he could not help editing the ending of many of the chapters). That being said, they're not as enjoya ...more
Olga Godim
Dec 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mainstream
Although this book was compiled in 1999, it contains the author’s early short stories, published in magazines in the 1950s and ’60s. It was not an easy or a fast book to read but it was powerful and it made an impression. I won’t re-read it; it didn’t give me much pleasure, which is why 4 stars instead of 5 stars, but I’ll remember it.
The stories are all about a small man in America. A couple stories have a scifi slant, but their speculative flavor is unimportant. The spotlight in all the stori
Mar 19, 2016 rated it liked it
An interesting and varied - if at times a bit dry - collection of Vonnegut's stories, where he sets out to do his favourite thing; get the reader to reset their moral compass, take off the mask of pretension and find themselves.

As he describes himself, writing is the process of making one's soul grow and that aim comes through here.
Erik Graff
May 07, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Vonnegut fans
Recommended to Erik by: Lawrence Santoro
Shelves: literature
Larry Santoro, a GoodReads author, gave this book as a Christmas present during the period when I and others would go to his home almost weekly to watch videos from his enormous movie collection. It is early Vonnegut and definitely not his best, but if you like the man as the writer he became, then it's probably worth reading.
Landon Beeson
This is a collection of short stories that are all kind of... well... boring except for one, which is absolutely incredible. That story is called 2BRO2B. This story is a crazy futuristic dystopian society that turns out so creepy it rocks! You could probably find this story without buying the whole book. It would be worth your time to skip the others. They are okay, but nothing special.

Lukasz Pruski
Nov 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
"My longtime friend and critic Professor Peter Reed, of the English Department at the University of Minnesota, made it his business to find these stories from my distant past. Otherwise, they might never have seen the light of day again. I myself hadn't saved one scrap of paper from that part of my life."
(Kurt Vonnegut Jr. in the Introduction to Bagombo Snuff Box.)

I am not sure that the collection of early short stories Bagombo Snuff Box by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., one of my favorite authors, should h
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Before I begin, let me say that Vonnegut is one of my favorite American novelists of the 20th century. GALAPAGOS holds a special place in my heart to this day. I AM A FAN.

This collection opens with a preface by the author wondering why anyone would want to amass his early works in one book. It's common for writers to semi-apologize for their earliest pieces. Sometimes this comes from a place of humility. Other times it's just the truth.

In this case, Vonnegut is telling the truth. Get two stori
A few of the stories in this collection are brilliant, such as "The Powder Blue Dragon," about a reckless youth with a fast car, or "Thanasphere," a sci-fi horror about a cloud in which ghosts communicate with the living. Most of the other stories at least had interesting parts, such as "A Present for Big Saint Nick" or "Souvenir." The short story is a very specific and difficult art to do well; still, more often than not, Vonnegut succeeds in creating something unique and entertaining. His dry- ...more
James Kirby
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Again, Kurt Vonnegut has proven his short-story prowess. Not every tale here is a winner, but there were enough to justify the read. I'd be interested to discuss the compilation with others who have read it, to compare which ones stuck with folks. Personally, I'm still contemplating Powder Blue Dragon, Lover's Anonymous, The Runaways, and of course 2BR02B (which I'm sure I read elsewhere first).
Aug 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are a couple of gems in here that provide a glimpse into the early stirrings of the style Vonnegut would come to develop, but this collection is ultimately made up of stories written by a yet unknown novelist while he was still learning the craft and sold to magazine periodicals with the goal of simply making just enough money to put food on the table. Still worth the read if you're a Vonnegut fan.
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
The typical Vonnegut-dear, yet a little more positive. Most of the stories lead to a happy ending, leaving us with the conclusion that goodness always wins. I liked the attitude, though. I love to think that if Vonnegut believes the world is a nice place to live in, well then that's how it is.
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars.
2BRO2B was amazing but the rest of the stories were pretty dull... I felt like I dragged my body through the book. Or maybe I just don’t appreciate Vonnegut like I did when I was younger... I’m not sure...
Ix Tab
Oct 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Vonnegut is the master of short forms. Short stories can have a greatness, if they're short enough and great enough in their shortness.
"Bagombo Snuff Box" is an assortment of short stories written by Kurt Vonnegut. All of them was initially published in the 1950-60s, but they didn't appear in Vonnegut's previous collection, "Welcome to the Monkey House". I was really glad to see this new anthology.
In the foreword, author says: "While I am reading [a short story], my pulse and breathing slow do
Jul 18, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh dear. Vonnegut is one of the writers I have often said is "among my favourites" and it's true that I regard The Sirens of Titan as probably the best science fiction novel of the 1950s, and Cat's Cradle as possibly the best science fiction novel of the 1960s. I also happen to have enjoyed many of his short stories. But this collection isn't especially good.

Yes, there are three good stories among the 23; and of those 3, one is superb. The superb story is '2BR02B', which is far ahead of the pack
Alan Perry
Aug 31, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I picked this book up at the beginning of the year. Having read Timequake a while back, I thought it was about time I read some more of Vonneguts work, this seemed to be a good place to start. A great collection of all his early short stories which had been published in various American literary magazines over the years, it's a wonderful insight into his beginnings of a novelist. The detail of emotion and feeling which he puts into the many personalities in the book leaves you with no doubt that ...more
Aug 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
A collection of Vonnegut short stories is always a treasure. His stories were modest and homey, but they always have a simple message and are easy to read. The stories collected here were the bread and butter of his early writing years: literally, they put food on his family in a time when he could sell three stories a year and support a family.

He was also learning his craft here. There are some classic stories here and a few that needed a little more polish. But each is a reminder of the simpl
Nov 03, 2007 rated it did not like it
maybe i'm really not a short story person and then again maybe vonnegut's a better novelist than a short story writer but it took me months to get through this collection and there were few stories that i found myself really wanting to finish except to get on to the next one. i was consistently disappointed and found myself on an 8 hour flight where i'd rather watch something called "wildhogs" than read vonnegut. i didn't even think that was possible.
Shreedhar Manek
Jul 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-a-copy
There's not much to say about a book of short stories, really. I liked some of them. Thought others were okay.

Some of these stories touch upon human nature, feelings and emotion - and do it well.

All in all, I like Vonnegut's humour.

Recommend read - 2BR02B, which was a sure 5/5.
This is another Vonnegut short story collection. My guess is that these are the Welcome to the Monkey House rejects. There are a couple of good stories (Thanosphere, 2BR02B) and a few that are decent, but most of them are just "meh".
Koen Kop
Sep 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Some of the stories are beautiful. Most of them somewhat predictable and inane. Vonnegut, whom I admire for many of his novels such as "Slapstick, or lonesome no more", "Slaughterhouse Five", "God bless you, mr. Rosewater", here not at his very best
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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
“Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.” 162 likes
“Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.” 155 likes
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