Derek Wolfgram's Reviews > Look at the Birdie: Unpublished Short Fiction

Look at the Birdie by Kurt Vonnegut
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's review
Nov 29, 2010

really liked it

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. 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. Chances are, as long as his unpublished ouevre keeps being mined for more, I'll keep buying them, most likely with mixed feelings about the works.

Look at the Birdie is a great example: it provides some early, poignant examples of short stories demonstrating the development of Vonnegut's trademark style. On his way to becoming the greatest novelist of the 20th century, he began his career writing short stories for a number of pulp magazines, with his gift for brevity often in direct competition with the "pay by the word" approach of these publications. If the stories in this collection remind me of anything, it's the surprise twist at the denouement of O. Henry's short stories.

From the winning attitude of Francine from the "Girl Pool" who brings new light into the life of a bureaucrat who thinks he's in a dead end position in "FUBAR" to the frightening but familiar portrait of small town politics in "Ed Luby's Key Club," these stories illuminate the vagaries of life in the way that only Vonnegut could. I'm glad there are still some opportunities left to experience his unique perspective on the world.
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