Patty Marvel's Reviews > Look at the Birdie: Unpublished Short Fiction

Look at the Birdie by Kurt Vonnegut
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's review
Mar 21, 2011

really liked it

This collection of fourteen unpublished short stories by the late Kurt Vonnegut is rather hit-or-miss...some are quite good, others...well, you can see why they weren't published while the author was still alive. It's best if I rate these by the story, so here goes...

1. "Confido" - Centers around a small device that people can tell their deepest thoughts to, but what it says back is curious. [Three out of five stars]

2. "F U B A R" - A man's life is, um, MESSED up beyond all repair...or is it? [Four stars]

3. "Shout About It from the Housetops" - A guy trying to sell storm windows stumbles upon a couple with a life story that's probably based on real events (at least for the female character - think "Peyton Place"). [Three]

4. "Ed Luby's Key Club" - Truly disturbing story about an anniversary dinner gone VERY wrong for a law-abiding couple. I would've given this story three or four stars because it started so strongly (disturbed me enough that I had to set it aside for a night or two), but there's a scene at the end that so strained my suspension of disbelief that I just can't do it. [Two]

5. "A Song for Selma" - Inside the microcosm of a high school, how we treat people and what we tell people is "true" about themselves can have a significant influence on how they act.

6. "Hall of Mirrors" - Did a hypnotist do the terrible things he's accused of and can two detectives prove it? Just when you think Vonnegut is going in one direction with the story, he shifts gears on you TWICE. [Four]

7. "The Nice Little People" - A man finds - or thinks he sees - little people in a wee small spaceship. Meanwhile, he misses the incredibly obvious. [Three]

8. "Hello, Red" - A wounded man returns to his hometown after many years for a confrontation. The ending unnerved me. [Four]

9. "Little Drops of Water" - A man who uses wealthy young women wanting to be singers meets his match in someone who can wear a person down like...well, like the title says. [Three]

10. "The Petrified Ants" - Set in Soviet Russia during Stalin's reign, two brothers/scientists find something that gives them insight into their own society, much to a powerful person's dismay. [Four]

11. "The Honor of a Newsboy" - I was really liking this murder mystery, but Vonnegut lost me when he had a cop run off after a sad little boy and forget to secure a murder suspect. REALLY? [Two]

12. "Look at the Birdie" - "Hey," I thought as the story progressed, "this is a rehash of 'Hall of Mirrors,' and not a very good one at that." Vonnegut must've dashed off this one during a trip to the john and nothing more. [One]

13. "King and Queen of the Universe" - Two wealthy and FAR too trusting young people are invited into a stranger's life and end up learning something about their own. [Four]

14. "The Good Explainer" - A married man goes to a doctor and learns more than he bargained for. This features a "I did NOT see that coming" ending. [Four]

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