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4.4 out of 5 stars17
4.4 out of 5 stars
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Having never read Vonnegut before, I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. The title led me to expect some degree of science fiction. What I found was a collection of rich, wonderfully written stories about a wide assortment of subjects. Vonnegut is a great writer, pure and simple. Many of the stories dealt with the future and the state of society, and Vonnegut struck me as having a somewhat cynical yet witty view of the subject. I found the themes of his stories to be somewhat akin to my own fears of life as we will some day know it, in a world where the government attempts to create utopia on earth. Two of the more memorable stories found in these pages are "Harrison Bergeron" and "Welcome to the Monkey House." In the first story, we find the type of society that I fear the most, a socialist republic where all people are required to be equal; those who possess intelligence and pose the danger of actually thinking are controlled by implants which forcefully disallow any thought from entering their minds. In the latter, we find a Malthusian world of overpopulation where everyone takes pills to numb the lower halves of their bodies and people are encouraged to come to Federal Ethical Suicide Parlors and voluntarily remove themselves from the crowded world. Other stories deal with massive overpopulation troubles.
On the other hand, we find more simplistic stories in which Vonnegut conveys individuals in a deep, touching light, striking great chords of sympathy in this reader's mind. A woman who is obsessed with redecorating the houses of her neighbors yet cannot afford to buy decent furniture for her own house; a young woman who comes to a strange town, captivates everyone with her beauty, is criticized and publicly humiliated by a young man for being the kind of girl he could never win the heart of, and is richly shown to be an innocent, lonely soul; a teen who acts horribly because he has never had a real family but is saved from a life of crime by a teacher who makes the grand effort to save the boy--these are some of the many subjects dealt with by the author. There is even a heartfelt story about a young Russian and young American who are killed in space but who inspire understanding and détente between the two superpowers by bringing home the point that they were both young men with families who loved them and who had no desire for anything but peace--written during the height of the Cold War, that story really stood out to me.
All of the stories are not eminently satisfying to me, but the lion's share of them are; a couple of stories seemed to have been written for no other reason but to make the author some money, which is okay (especially since Vonnegut introduces the stories by saying he wrote them in order to finance his novel-writing endeavors). I may have been less than satisfied by a couple of stories, but even the worst of the lot was written wonderfully and obviously with much care, and I daresay that few writers could do better on their best day than Vonnegut does on his worst. Sometimes, as one ages, one fears that he will eventually have read all of the best books in the world, but then one discovers an author such as Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and it is one of the best and most exciting things that can happen to that person.
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A collection of short stories from various sources

This book is a collection of 25 short stories. They are simple but you can if you want read great depth in them. These stories would make good starters for a reading group or circle. They are professional but not extraordinary or unique.

"The year was 2081, and everyone was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal in every way."

I bought this book for one story in particular "Harrison Bergeron"; I bought the movie with Sean Astin and thought even if the story was fleshed out to be more like "This Perfect Day". So I thought it would be time to read the story. Unfortunately the short story cannot hold a candle to the movie. It never really gets off the ground and comes to a curt conclusion never resolving the conflict.

Harrison Bergeron ~ Sean Astin
also
Who Am I This Time? ~ Susan Sarandon
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on 9 December 2012
Promoters of this book mention science fiction but I think that this is a very small aspect of the book. The short stories are much more a kindly look at human nature or imagining an extreme extension of government policies as in the first story 'Harrison Bergeron' where everyone is artificially handicapped by a government agency to ensure equality. There is a certain 'feel good' factor about many of the items while at the same time there is food for thought. I have the Kindle version and there are a few typos but I liked the general style of writing. I would recommend this book.
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This book is a collection of 25 short stories. They are simple but you can if you want read great depth in them. These stories would make good starters for a reading group or circle. They are professional but not extraordinary or unique.

"The year was 2081, and everyone was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal in every way."

I bought this book for one story in particular "Harrison Bergeron"; I bought the movie with Sean Astin and thought even if the story was fleshed out to be more like "This Perfect Day". So I thought it would be time to read the story. Unfortunately the short story can not hold a candle to the movie. It never really gets off the ground and comes to a curt conclusion never resolving the conflict.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This book is a collection of 25 short stories. They are simple but you can if you want read great depth in them. These stories would make good starters for a reading group or circle. They are professional but not extraordinary or unique.

"The year was 2081, and everyone was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal in every way."

I bought this book for one story in particular "Harrison Bergeron"; I bought the movie with Sean Astin and thought even if the story was fleshed out to be more like "This Perfect Day". So I thought it would be time to read the story. Unfortunately the short story cannot hold a candle to the movie. It never really gets off the ground and comes to a curt conclusion never resolving the conflict.
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on 1 May 2013
Just because you have read one KV stories does not prepare you for the next one. Many , varied, covering all sorts of taboos of the 70s and 80's its not really science fiction. rather a slight extension of sociology. The Handicap General is here, though the story is short , it has been used many times as an example of what socialist education is all about. = levelling the field by penalising the smart. This has been in place here in the UK for the last fifteen years, and a fifth of the populations is now functionally illiterate, yet 'educators' want to extend handicapping.
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on 23 July 2015
I would recommend this as possibly the best collection of Vonnegut's shorter works. It is a selection of short stories that were originally published in various U.S. magazines during the 1950s and 60s. The stories give off a feel of those times; they are sometimes funny, sometimes surprising, sometimes sentimental, and they contain a lot of Kurt's warmth, as well as his cynicism. Very easy to read, and likely to be of interest to anyone who likes Vonnegut, or just likes short stories.
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on 21 March 2012
An absolute classic and recommended reading for all Kurt Vonnegut fans. Short stories written with wit in his imitable style!
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on 16 January 2013
Usually I like Vonnegut's writing, but I found these short stories rather unsatisfying, almost as if they were novel ideas that he couldn't be bothered developing fully. Some of them also seem very dated now, e.g. "Welcome to the Monkey House" itself - using a ban on procreation as the basis of a dystopia just doesn't feel original enough any more, and the use of kidnapping and rape as part of the supposed resolution now comes across as deeply creepy.
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on 10 February 2013
I bought a whole batch of Vonnegut books when they were available in the kindle sale. This is the first one I have read. What an absolutely brilliantly creative mind that can easily switch between genres and yet not feel forced in any way. Written mainly in the 1950`s this collection of short fiction showed how assured Vonnegut was even in the early days of his writing career. Definitely worth purchasing and devouring.
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