Let me begin this review by listing my favourite Vonnegut novels---that way you can see what my standards are.
The Sirens of Titan
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
Breakfast of Champions
Kurt Vonnegut had at least 2 phases in his career as an author. The first was when he was writing safe, careful fiction for magazines, and the second was when he wrote irreverent, novel-length narratives in his flagrantly subjective style.
This book, We Are What We Pretend to Be, offers 2 items: The first, Basic Training, written in the 1940s, is a long story of about 80 pages. It was written during his magazine phase. From a technical point of view, it was written well. The sentences are constructed nicely and the story flows at a good pace. But there is nothing irreverent about the story and we do not "hear" Vonnegut's voice. It is not the least bit funny or clever. It's just a run of the mill story which he was unable to get published---and rightly so.
The second item, If God Were Alive Today, written in 2000, is presented as a NOVELLA, when in fact it is nothing more than a 1st draft of a tentative novel that Vonnegut abandoned long before he was even close to finishing it. It is appallingly stupid, lame, and not the least bit funny, and there is no way whatsoever that Vonnegut would have approved of releasing it to the public. It was clearly just a helpless, sputtering emission from a machine that couldn't stop itself from going through the motions---even though 5 of its 8 cylinders no longer worked. It was only a writer's exercise; something to do rather than watch television. He didn't have any intention of finishing it---or publishing it.
In the Foreword, written by Nanette Vonnegut, it talks about If God Were Alive Today and it says, "...there is hilarity, wisdom, and redemption along the way."
No there isn't.
Not at all.
Nanette should be red-faced with shame. From here on forward she shall be known as Tomato Vonnegut.
Talk about a rip-off...and scraping the bottom of the barrel...
And the worst thing about this book is that a brilliant title was wasted on it!
Shame on you, Tomato Vonnegut---and Vanguard Press---and all the ignorant sycophants who praise this graveyard robbery.