Who Am I This Time? by Kurt Vonnegut, 1961 Continue reading
Tag: Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
‘Long Walk To Forever’ by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Long Walk To Forever by Kurt Vonnegut, 1960 Continue reading
June 2014 favorites
The June stories ordered solely on my personal tastes.
- ‘Venus, Cupid, Folly And Time’ by Peter Taylor
- ‘Blackberry Winter’ by Robert Penn Warren
- ‘Babylon Revisited’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- ‘Upon The Sweeping Flood’ by Joyce Carol Oates
- ‘Good Country People’ by Flannery O’Connor
- ‘My Old Man’ by Ernest Hemingway
- ‘I’m A Fool’ by Sherwood Anderson
- ‘Sonny’s Blues’ by James Baldwin
- ‘Only The Dead Know Brooklyn’ by Thomas Wolfe
- ‘Double Birthday’ by Willa Cather
- ‘The View From The Balcony’ by Wallace Stegner
- ‘The Magic Barrel’ by Bernard Malamud
- ‘No Place For You, My Love’ by Eudora Welty
- ‘The Schreuderspitze’ by Mark Helprin
- ‘The Hartleys’ by John Cheever
- ‘O City Of Broken Dreams’ by John Cheever
- ‘A Day In The Open’ by Jane Bowles
- ‘The Lottery’ by Shirley Jackson
- ‘In The Zoo’ by Jean Stafford
- ‘The Lost Phoebe’ by Theodore Dreiser
- ‘Welcome To The Monkey House’ by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
- ‘How Beautiful With Shoes’ by Wilbur Daniel Steele
- ‘The Little Wife’ by William March
- ‘A Distant Episode’ by Paul Bowles
- ‘The Faithful Wife’ by Morley Callaghan
- ‘The Golden Honeymoon’ by Ring Lardner
- ‘Resurrection Of A Life’ by William Saroyan
- ‘The State Of Grace’ by Harold Brodkey
- ‘A Telephone Call’ by Dorothy Parker
- ‘The Survivors’ by Elsie Singmaster
‘Welcome To The Monkey House’ by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Welcome To The Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., 1961
The magic trick:
Giving the reader a no-win sympathy situation
The reader, much like the characters in this story, has nowhere good to turn in this monkey house. Vonnegut’s picture of the future is pretty bleak. Now perhaps this is an immature, even stupid, approach to art, but I find that when I read fiction, I need a character, or at least an idea, with which to sympathize. I need to know right from wrong at least. I’m guessing this is a not-uncommon expectation. Vonnegut, though, has no patience for readers like us.
Consider the options he provides here. You can sympathize with the suicide nurse who believes in a sexless life of robot efficiency. Not so great, right? Well, the “hero” – the advocate for sex and passion and emotion – believes kidnapping, imprisonment, and rape are the only means for his message. It’s very difficult to read those passages, let alone sympathize with his agenda.
So where does that leave us? Well, I’ll tell you. It leaves us alone and anxious and fearful and full of disdain for both sides of the sexual revolution. In other words: exactly where the author wants us. And that’s quite a trick on Vonnegut’s part.
“I never listen to a woman till the pills wear off,” sneered Billy. That was his plan, then – to keep her a prisoner for at least eight hours. That was how long it took for the pills to wear off.
“That’s a silly rule.”
“A woman’s not a woman till the pills wear off.”
“You certainly manage to make a woman feel like an object rather than a person.”
“Thank the pills for that,” said Billy.