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Welcome to the Monkey House [Kindle Edition]

Kurt Vonnegut
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (242 customer reviews)

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Book Description

This short-story collection Welcome to the Monkey House (1968) incorporates almost completely Vonnegut's 1961 "Canary in a Cathouse," which appeared within a few months of Slaughterhouse-Five and capitalized upon that breakthrough novel and the enormous attention it suddenly brought.

Drawn from both specialized science fiction magazines and the big-circulation general magazines (Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, etc.) which Vonnegut had been one of the few science writers to sell, the collection includes some of his most accomplished work. The title story may be his most famous--a diabolical government asserts control through compulsory technology removing orgasm from sex--but Vonnegut's bitterness and wit, not in his earlier work as poisonous or unshielded as it later became, is well demonstrated.

Two early stories from Galaxy science fiction magazine and one from Fantasy & Science Fiction (the famous "Harrison Bergeron") show Vonnegut's careful command of a genre about which he was always ambivalent, stories like "More Stately Mansions" or "The Foster Portfolio" the confines and formula of a popular fiction of which he was always suspicious. Vonnegut's affection for humanity and bewilderment as its corruption are manifest in these early works.

Several of these stories (those which appeared in Collier's) were commissioned by Vonnegut’s Cornell classmate and great supporter Knox Burger, also born in 1922.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) is one of the most beloved American writers of the twentieth century. Vonnegut's audience increased steadily since his first five pieces in the 1950s and grew from there. His 1968 novel Slaughterhouse-Five has become a canonic war novel with Joseph Heller's Catch-22 to form the truest and darkest of what came from World War II.

Vonnegut began his career as a science fiction writer, and his early novels--Player Piano and The Sirens of Titan--were categorized as such even as they appealed to an audience far beyond the reach of the category. In the 1960s, Vonnegut became closely associated with the Baby Boomer generation, a writer on that side, so to speak.

Now that Vonnegut's work has been studied as a large body of work, it has been more deeply understood and unified. There is a consistency to his satirical insight, humor and anger which makes his work so synergistic. It seems clear that the more of Vonnegut's work you read, the more it resonates and the more you wish to read. Scholars believe that Vonnegut's reputation (like Mark Twain's) will grow steadily through the decades as his work continues to increase in relevance and new connections are formed, new insights made.

ABOUT THE SERIES

Author Kurt Vonnegut is considered by most to be one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. His books Slaughterhouse-Five (named after Vonnegut's World War II POW experience) and Cat's Cradle are considered among his top works. RosettaBooks offers here a complete range of Vonnegut's work, including his first novel (Player Piano, 1952) for readers familiar with Vonnegut's work as well as newcomers.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Listeners are in for a treat as a masterful cast animates many of Vonnegut's finest short pieces. Vonnegut colors his oft-wondrous works with memorable characters, fantastic realities, pitch-perfect dialogue and heapings of satire and humor—a tall order for any audio actor. But this group of narrators are veterans of screen and stage, each with a unique voice as malleable as clay. It's hard to find fault with this production. Occasionally, Tucci and Irwin oversoften their voices, and listeners may find themselves reaching for the volume. Otherwise, there are very few blemishes. Baker is outstanding in "All the King's Horses" and "The Hyannis Port Story." Strathairn shines on "Tom Edison's Shaggy Dog" and "The Lie." Tucci handles with ease the predominantly male pieces "Go Back to Your Precious Wife and Son" and "Manned Missiles." Irwin inhabits every character. The robust Roberts is both commanding and wry. Given the fertile material and the collective talent of the cast, listeners should expect nothing less than excellence here. They won't be disappointed. Available in paperback from Dell. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“He strips the flesh from bone and makes you laugh while he does it. . . . There are twenty-five stories here, and each hits a nerve ending.”—Charlotte Observer
 
“Vonnegut is George Orwell, Dr. Caligari and Flash Gordon compounded into one writer . . . a zany but moral mad scientist.”—Time

“A great artist.”—Cincinnati Enquirer

Product Details

  • File Size: 1193 KB
  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Publisher: RosettaBooks (August 22, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005IQYGW4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,185 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
91 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars bite-sized chunks March 20, 2003
Format:Paperback
If you don't already know Kurt Vonnegut's work, this may be the best introduction to it -- especially considering that short stories are the art form that Vonnegut started out with, where he developed his craft.
And if you already know Vonnegut but don't know this book, then think of this as the author in delicious bit-sized chunks.
But read the book!
I would not say that Welcome to the Monkey House is Vonnegut's best book -- in fact, it may not even be in the top five by my calculations -- but it is the one book of his I would keep if I had to give all the other away, simply because of the diversity of the stories he tells and the simple writing skill they illustrate.
And I might argue that the best single STORY Vonnegut ever wrote is "Harrison Bergeron" the riveting and still-relevant tale about human nature that effects me as much today as it did when I first read it 20 years ago. Vonnegut without a doubt proves with this story that all writers are not created equal.
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45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Please note that my rating is about the quality of the Kindle edition, not the quality of Vonnegut's writing.

On the one hand, the short stories are wonderful and showcase some of Vonnegut's earlier writing. On the other hand, the Kindle edition would likely embarrass any author, and particularly one whose precision of language was equal to Kurt Vonnegut's. Specifically, the book appears to have been created by scanning a hard copy and then using optical character recognition (OCR) software to convert the images to letters, without making an effort to even so much as electronically verify that the OCR got it right (e.g. even a Word grammar checker would have turned up most of the obvious mistakes). This results in an almost verbatim rendering of the original, but not quite. In the Kindle version it is quite jarring to find, for example, the word "mat" appearing nonsensically in the middle of some sentences where the word "that" was plainly intended. Two examples: "It was in this news mat Nancy perceived a glint of hope" or "Why, honey bunch, they call mat truth serum." Mostly, "that" shows up correctly, but not always. Perhaps the most obnoxious example is in the short story "Deer in the Works" where a character's name is first given as "Lou Flammer" then inexplicably switches for a few pages to "Lou Hammer" and then switches back to last name "Flammer" again. Vonnegut doesn't make those sorts of mistakes. Kindle does, and it is a shame to do it to a writer of such ability. Nevertheless, what Vonnegut writes in these short stories are entertaining, thought provoking, disturbing, and somewhat of a time capsule for the mindset of America in the 1950s and early 60s. My only suggestion is to buy a hard copy version and read what Vonnegut actually wrote, instead.
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82 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As essential as the novels March 18, 2002
Format:Paperback
I'm not a huge fan of short story collections since I'd much rather sit through a single story throughout all those pages instead of a series of tales that at best tend to be hit or miss and wildly inconsistent. However there are some writers that I will acknowledge are masters of the form, Theodore Sturgeon, Ray Bradbury and of course Kurt Vonnegut (that's not even counting the "classic" short story masters who I haven't read) who's novels sometimes come across as longish short stories anyway. Most of these stories were written early in his career, in the fifties or sixties and it looks like someone actually made an attempt to sequence them instead of just dumping them in chronoloogical order, thus there's a bit of a procession as you move along, finally ending with the darkly hopeful 'Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow". Along the way you'll find that the quality is quite high and many of these are very much vintage Vonnegut. He mixes around with genres and so SF exercises such as "Harrison Bergeron" and "Welcome to the Monkey House" (classics both) sit comfortably next to more typical stories such as "Manned Missiles" (which gets my vote for most effective story in the collection and surprised me the most). There aren't really any clunkers here, some are simpler than others and will pass you by without much impact, but the majority all have some moment or theme to recommend them as keepers and give you something to think about long after you've finished them. Sure, most of the stories were written in a different time but regardless of the SF or the Cold War backdrop or whatever, these are essentially timeless and deserved to be read again and again.
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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing collection of short stories January 17, 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Seller helped with issue and did a great job. Thank you!
Published 4 days ago by Andrew Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars book
book
Published 7 days ago by Jess
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun Short Stories
Fun stories from the author in the fifties. I like "Tom Edison's Shaggy Dog".
Published 16 days ago by Craig Sugarman
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Short Stories
Lots of innovative, interesting short stories with very different situations. Some surprising, some captivating, all good reads.
Published 17 days ago by ACE
5.0 out of 5 stars Kurt Vonnegut is great, love his books
Kurt Vonnegut is great, love his books. Down to earth guy with a gift! A new discovery for me and I will buy his books.
Published 17 days ago by Ben frankly
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly prescient and a pleasure to read
Vonnegut writes in the voice of Everyman and Everywoman. Darkly humorous and ominously prescient, read from the vantage point of present day America 2014. Read more
Published 22 days ago by janet mills
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book, wished some of the stories were longer.
Published 23 days ago by Jan cook
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliance in brevity.
Been a big fan of KV, Jr for many years, so this was a re-read.
All the stories are good, but the first 3 are just fantastic. Read more
Published 25 days ago by James A Reid
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful!
This is the first time I've read any of Vonnegut's writings and it won't be the last! Whatever he writes he writes with humor and a clear look at the human condition. Read more
Published 26 days ago by Richard Pavek
5.0 out of 5 stars WECOME TO THE MONKEY HOUSE
This book is a classic and a must read. It is amazing how the author brings problems to life that we now have to deal with more than ever.
Published 29 days ago by M.J.Dupre'(mjdupre@yahoo.com)
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More About the Author

Kurt Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis in 1922. He studied at the universities of Chicago and Tennessee and later began to write short stories for magazines. His first novel, Player Piano, was published in 1951 and since then he has written many novels, among them: The Sirens of Titan (1959), Mother Night (1961), Cat's Cradle (1963), God Bless You Mr Rosewater (1964), Welcome to the Monkey House; a collection of short stories (1968), Breakfast of Champions (1973), Slapstick, or Lonesome No More (1976), Jailbird (1979), Deadeye Dick (1982), Galapagos (1985), Bluebeard (1988) and Hocus Pocus (1990). During the Second World War he was held prisoner in Germany and was present at the bombing of Dresden, an experience which provided the setting for his most famous work to date, Slaughterhouse Five (1969). He has also published a volume of autobiography entitled Palm Sunday (1981) and a collection of essays and speeches, Fates Worse Than Death (1991).

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