Welcome to the Monkey House: A Midway Review

My first experience with Kurt Vonnegut came about when I was unpacking my now-husband/then-fiance’s box of nicknacks when we moved into our first apartment together.  He had about twelve books and two of them were Vonnegut-written: Slaughterhouse Five and Cat’s Cradle.  He told me that he had been a member of an after school Kurt Vonnegut club – AKA – heaven!  I chose to read Slaughterhouse Five because it was the one that I had heard of and I made plans after finishing it that I would incorporate it into my curriculum as soon as possible.

Part of my Summer Reading Project Plans include Slaughterhouse Five, but because I have been craving the opportunity to expand my Vonnegut library, I decided to pick up, Welcome to the Monkey House.

Goodreads.com Synopsis

4985 (Via Goodreads.com) This short-story collection Welcome to the Monkey House (1968) incorporates almost completely Vonnegut’s 1961 “Canary in a Cathouse,” which appeared within a few months of Slaughterhouse-Five and capitalized upon that breakthrough novel and the enormous attention it suddenly brought.

Drawn from both specialized science fiction magazines and the big-circulation general magazines which Vonnegut had been one of the few science writers to sell, the collection includes some of his most accomplished work. The title story may be his most famous—a diabolical government asserts control through compulsory technology removing orgasm from sex—but Vonnegut’s bitterness and wit, not in his earlier work as poisonous or unshielded as it later became, is well demonstrated.

Two early stories from Galaxy science fiction magazine and one from Fantasy & Science Fiction (the famous “Harrison Bergeron”) show Vonnegut’s careful command of a genre about which he was always ambivalent, stories like “More Stately Mansions” or “The Foster Portfolio” the confines and formula of a popular fiction of which he was always suspicious. Vonnegut’s affection for humanity and bewilderment as its corruption are manifest in these early works.

Stories I Have Read:

  1. Where I Live
  2. Harrison Bergeron
  3. Who Am I This Time?
  4. Welcome to the Monkey House
  5. Long Walk to Forever
  6. The Foster Portfolio
  7. Miss Temptation
  8. All the King’s Horses
  9. Tom Edition’s Shaggy Dog
  10. New Dictionary
  11. Next Door
  12. More Stately Mansions
  13. D.P.

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This collection of short stories is  accessible to a variety of audiences and literary enthusiasts because of the diversified subject matter, author’s purpose, style, and the time in Vonnegut’s career in which they were written.  Audiences can clearly see the traits of the journalist that was once Vonnegut through his use of short, direct sentences in his earlier works.  As part of the Postmodern literature movement, Vonnegut utilizes a heavy dose of dark humor, parody, and irony.  The writing style that charmed me in Slaughterhouse Five and “Harrison Bergeron” are pervasive throughout the short stories that are collected within, Welcome to the Monkey House.

Because each short story can stand on its own, I have chosen to read no more than three at one time, allowing each one to be digested and appreciated fully.  I can see the merits of utilizing many, if not all, of the chapters in any level of literature courses and Creative Writing classes.

Review: 

Five of Five Stars

Five Photos for Friday

I was cleaning out My Photo Steam between episodes of “Game of Thrones” and short stories in Welcome to the Monkey House, and I couldn’t help but want to share some gems with *you all.

*Consciously rewrote from “ya’ll.”  Slowly transforming into a southerner everyday.

Another Fallen Soldier
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It’s no secret that the desks in my classroom have seen their better days, and sadly enough we had to put another out to pasture. (How many rhetorical devices can you identify in that sentence?  I see at least three.)  When this desk was no longer salvageable, my students in 3rd period and I gave it its last rites, sang a stirring rendition of, “Amazing Grace,” and gave her a proper send off.

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From Day to Evening Look

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I don’t know which would be more acceptable: telling you that I purposely chose to have my fingernails painted different colors or that I accidentally chose a limited edition formula that changes shades depending on the temperature.  For the next two weeks I’ll be reliving the 80s and Hypercolor memories until I’m due for my next manicure.  I’m not sure how I managed to get my pinkie and thumb colder than my middle three digits, but that’s the magic of me I guess.

Sucks to Your Apple!

Anyone can have a student leave adoring little notes and trinkets on the teacher’s desk, but it takes someone special to earn these terms of endearment.

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And yes, that does say, “Students’ Tears,” and not, “Students’ Teats,” as one colleague thought he read.

Stacks on Desks Stacks on Desks

Last night I decided to put my newly found Barnes and Noble gift card to good use, and what appropriate timing because this week it’s

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I found several titles that are on my newly developed Summer Reading list.

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*The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

*The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

*Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut

*Candide by Voltaire

*Crash Course: AP Language and Composition

*A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

*642 Things to Write Journal

Thanks to a day off of school I’ve made a significant dent in the short story anthology.

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The Value of a Good Coworker

One part of teaching that nobody really talks about is the value of those whom you work with, either on a daily or weekly or monthly basis.  The adults in  a school are just as potent in the recipe that makeup a school’s climate.  You want to feel as though your colleagues are professional, reliable, share the same educational values, and are easy to communicate with.

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I’ve been blessed to have consistently worked with strong teachers, especially those whom have been in my own department.  I’ve run across my share of bristly personalities, but for the most part I’ve been able to come to a mutual understanding and respect for their positions in the overall productivity of the school.

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I value both the supportive and angelic coworkers that I’ve had who have never given me a reason to raise an eye or crinkle my brow, but trust me when I say that I’m also grateful for those who have challenged me, brought tears to my eyes with their words and actions, and have tried to make themselves look more powerful at my expense.  strength_motivational_quote

The difference between having a team that you can count on and simply having, what I like to call, a “door neighbor” is the difference between crawling and running a marathon.  Sure you’ll get to the finish line in both cases, but one is far more efficient than the other.

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You know you’ve got a good coworker when…

1.  You see them putting in as much effort and devotion to teaching as you do.

2.  They are always willing to learn or try something new and innovative in the classroom.

3.  They share their lunch what they’ve learned with their colleagues.

4.  They’re consistent – with the students, their work ethic, their word.

5.  They inspire you to do your job better.

Right now, through those trials and life lessons, I’m in the best place that I could ever imagine.  I’ve been the new girl at the school who has had to rely on the kindness of strangers and left out in the cold because my department members had been taught through their own experiences to be protective of their territory and anybody new is a threat.  I’ve been called upon to represent the entirety of my grade level and/or department and had to stand up and speak out, learning that just because you speak loudly doesn’t mean that you’ve been heard.  I’ve been entrusted to help bring along the new girl in the school, opening up my treasure trove of experiences, resources, guiding without interfering, and measuring the times in which to allow my experiences to guide or their own trial and errors.  I’ve learned that nobody should be written off as invaluable; those who seem to be inconsequential can end up being your number one ally.  You never know where you will find gold.

Because when this is more true than anyone will ever know:

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you need to be able to rely on those who come out of the wringer right next to you.