Who Am I This Time? by Kurt Vonnegut, 1961
The magic trick:
A contrived romance that plays far more realistic and natural than it should
Vonnegut takes us into the world of smalltown community theater today. Sadly, “Waiting For Guffman” this is not. Still enjoyable though!
He creates two characters with uniquely well-suited features. He is an actor who only shows any personality at all when he’s playing a role in a show. She is a saleswoman who only finds passion for life when she’s falling in love with a performer.
Amazingly, the story doesn’t feel half as contrived as that probably sounds.
And that’s quite a trick on Vonnegut’s part.
“What?” she said.
“When machines start delivering themselves,” I said, “I guess that’s when the people better start really worrying.”
“Oh,” she said. She didn’t seem very interested in that subject, and I wondered if she was interested in anything. She seemed kind of numb, almost a machine herself, an automatic phone-company politeness machine.
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I love this story – though I haven’t read it in decades (maybe I prefer my memory of it)