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

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