For several years, I have boasted about having read everything ever published by Kurt Vonnegut. Last week, I found another collection of short stories that was published posthumously that I had never read. Touche Mr. Vonnegut, you have taught me an important lesson on braggadocio. Well played.
So- my choice for last week was that very collection, While Mortals Sleep. It was everything I expect in a Kurt Vonnegut book and more. In fact, I have to say this is my favorite collection of his short stories. Every time I read one of his stories I can almost feel him smirking at me through the words. No one writes like that anymore. Every story is delivered with a smirk and a moral- if you will (or if you won’t, it really doesn’t make any difference to me). What I mean to say is, these are certainly stories with morals/messages, they just might not be what you expect. They aren’t preachy or chastising, they are just observations meant to inform. Even if it is a little biting.
The introduction to this was written by Dave Eggers- another writer I greatly admire and enjoy. He makes some great observations about Vonnegut and his style of writing and comes to the same conclusion I do, which is, Kurt Vonnegut cared a great deal about the human condition and he didn’t give a damn if his writing was politically correct- he cared that much. God bless him. Vonnegut once described his effort at improving the human condition through writing as “throwing cream pies” (particularly his effort to protest the Vietnam war). Maybe he felt it was ineffectual, but gee if that man didn’t throw more cream pies than any other writer of his time or ours. He kept throwing them, time and again. I certainly hope I can throw a pie or two like Mr. Vonnegut.
Of course, you know I loved this collection of stories. Read it immediately- or I will throw a cream pie in your face.