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abookaweek 2012: week six

2012 February 12

While Mortals Sleep, by Kurt Vonnegut

Category: Short stories

Story: This book comprises 16 previously unpublished stories, most from the beginning of Vonnegut’s career, and features drawings made by the writer himself. There’s also a foreword by Dave Eggers that is really worth reading.

Opinion: I’d never read any of Vonnegut’s short stories before (nor, for that matter, have I read many of his novels), but this seemed like as good a place as any to start. After reading Slaughterhouse Five and Cat’s Cradle I have come to know Vonnegut as a darkly satirical writer, but this collection shows a lighter side of his work. While all the tales have something to teach you, they are overall still optimistic – admittedly it was a sigh of relief after last week’s book, as good as that was. My favorite stories include one about a typist who falls in love with a serial killer, and one about a man who is in love with the refrigerator-cum-robot he travels around the country with.

But this lighter, humorous aspect is also what keeps me from giving this five out of five; there’s no raw emotion to draw you into the story, and the moral undertones keep you at bay because you’re so aware that you’re being taught something. Nevertheless, the story themselves are funny, imaginative, and have piqued my interest in the rest of his writing.

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