Upon the advice of Twelveoaks, I recently sat down to a sizeable dose of the writing of Kurt Vonnegut in the form of the book Welcome to the Monkey House. Although, I’d unwittingly read a few of his short stories, (regrettably) I’d never allowed myself a deeper or broader exposure to his work.
Welcome to the Monkey House is a collection of various short stories that originally appeared in various publications such as The Magazine of Fantasy and Science fiction and The Atlantic Monthly.
My first impression was an appreciation for Vonnegut’s darkly humorous take on modernization and society in general. Unlike authors of a similar tact, Vonnegut manages to avoid the crushing negativity and outright bile that others wallow in when issuing their commentaries. Instead, he manages to infuse most of his more socially focused short stories with just enough levity and empathy to give the reader a healthy dose of consideration tempered with hope. After all, what is the point of creating awarness if you also saddle your reader with hopelessness or depression. Of course, I may be reading too much in the meta-motive of the stories, but I’ll allow more critical reviewers the luxury of deciding that.
Only rarely in this collection does Vonnegut stray or miss a beat, and some might point out the datedness of a few of his topics, but if you can look past the window dressing to the core of each story, I think you’ll be pleasantly rewarded. Each of the stories in Welcome to the Monkey House is a quick read that will linger with you prompting deliberation and consideration later, so I recommend allowing a pause to digest between them. I would not be so quick to consign him to the science fiction niche either, though fans of that genre will probably appreciate the classical sci-fi overtures of several of the stories in this work.
In closing, I would have to offer my sincere recommendations. The book certainly left me interested in delving into a few more of his collections and perhaps even one or more of his full lengthy novels.