Monday, October 19, 2009

Look at the Birdie by Vonnegut is out Today!!

I remember the first book I read of Kurt Vonnegut, it was Sirens of Titan. I was 16 and mainly reading fantasy books at the time. Reading that book was the beginning of the end for me. I blew through most of Vonnegut's library of books in a summer.

I believe that was around the time when Bagombo Snuff Box came out, and a fellow bookseller at the time, John, bought the book on the same day I did. The next time I worked with him I was done with it, John was not. He was savoring the stories and the books, in fact he had not read the previous book at all. Now, years later, I understand exactly why he did what he did, though I still have not learned from it. Armageddon in Retrospect was fantastic, but I read that one too quickly. I should have savored them as well, but there is something in Vonnegut's style that propels the reader onward.

I have done it once again with Look at the Birdie, which is out today. Now, I am not one these blind fans that will tell you that every story in this book is a gem. No, most of them are not on the same level as the stories in Welcome to the Monkey House, but they are pure Vonnegut genius nonetheless. A lot of these stories were written a long time ago, almost all of them before he became the famous Kurt Vonnegut. They are marvelous in the way they hint at how Vonnegut's style was emerging to the stories of Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat's Cradle. My favorite story, if such a thing were possible, would be Ed Luby's Key Clubs. Where a misunderstanding leads a couple, who are out for a romantic evening, on the run from the law. In Nice Little People, the main character gets advice from aliens to help him deal with his personal problems, and not for the better.

If you read and liked Armageddon in Retrospect, you will like Look at the Birdie. It is not the same type of short fiction, but it is all Vonnegut and it is simply fantastic. It is also full of Vonnegut's own drawings that litter the book and complement the stories. It is on Boswell's Best for the month at $20.80."

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