Tuesday, December 13, 2011

While Mortals Sleep : Unpublished Short Fiction-Kurt Vonnegut

While Mortals Sleep : Unpublished Short Fiction

Kurt Vonnegut

Dial/Penguin, Jan 3 2012, $16.00

ISBN: 9780385343749

These sixteen extremely short stories were unpublished works by the late great Kurt Vonnegut written before his renowned novels. Although overall they display a tyro learning his craft, each shows the author’s prime theme of ordinary people struggling to find a place in a cold cynical technological tundra. The title entry focuses on newspaper editor Fred Hackleman, who hates capitalistic Christmas who intrudes on big stories, but he is trapped into judging a holiday lights contest. In Kafkaesque Montezuma Forge and Foundry Company "Girl Pool" stenographer Amy Lou transcribes from her Dictaphone a dying killer’s plea for help. George, the former researcher who is now a lonely traveling salesman at General Household Appliances Company, has converted a refrigerator into "Jenny" the robot with the face of his former wife. Earl the builder liked to have “His hand on the Throttle” of miniature trains until Ella causes a train wreck. Though not quite as polished, graveyard humorous or as dark as Cat’s Cradle or Slaughterhouse Five, these entries are fun timely cynicisms of modern day life in which technology has made things easier (including war – as a POW Dresden was imprinted as an icon in Mr. Vonnegut’s brain) yet devour the individuals who find the price of leisure being loneliness

Harriet Klausner

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