This collection of short stories previously unpublished until 2009 will be enjoyed by Vonnegut fans familiar with the author’s trademark style. Within the short stores, averaging roughly 15 pages, Vonnegut relays his unique view on the mishap and comedy that is life. As is typical with Vonnegut, the reader needs to have the ability to use suspension of disbelief, as his stories blur the boundaries between reality and fiction.
There are a few stand out stories from this collection that are truly memorable- “Confido” starts out the collection with a story of a device that is supposed to be the key to happiness; someone to talk to who truly understands us. It turns out to know people too well, and brings to light many deep and dark emotions. We wonder if perhaps ignorance is bliss after all.
A few stories do have a “feel good” ending. “F U B A R”, standing for Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition, has us following an office worker banished to an office in the company’s gym within the complex of buildings. A new typist helps him find the positive within the everyday. “Ed Luby’s Key Club” is a longer story that shows the depth of a small town’s corruption and then salvation by righting wrongs and bringing to justice a man who got away with too much, for far too long. At the end of it all the experience helps a married couple find a renewed love in each other.
Vonnegut is great at presenting us with a twist ending that we cannot imagine coming. In “The Hall of Mirrors”, two detectives go to a hypnotist that is suspected of murdering several female clients that withdrew large sums of money before they are last known going to his office located in an old large house. The hypnotist, Weems, is quick to put the detectives under his spell and take control so he can continue his scheme. He leads them upstairs to the old ballroom where there is essentially a hall of mirrors and tricks the detectives in to what ends up being his own demise.
TL:DR It is amazing what scenes and feelings Vonnegut can create in a short amount of pages. If you are new to Vonnegut, I suggest starting with a few novels and enjoying this after. Current Vonnegut fans will enjoy this look at previously unpublished work.
Reviewed by Katie Holland, who is a Chicago based artist, creative mind and bookworm.
Publication Date: October 20, 2009 Page Count: 251
ISBN: 038534371X Publisher: Delacorte Press