- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback; Reprint edition (January 3, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780385343749
- ISBN-13: 978-0385343749
- ASIN: 0385343744
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #256,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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While Mortals Sleep: Unpublished Short Fiction Paperback – January 3, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
The 16 previously unpublished short stories of this collection, taken from the beginning of Vonnegut's career, show a young author already grappling with themes and ideas that would define his work for decades to come. "Girl Pool" features typist Amy Lou Little, employee of the Kafkaesque Montezuma Forge and Foundry Company, who is tasked with transcribing a plea for help she receives on her Dictaphone from an escaped, dying murderer hiding somewhere in the works of the company's cavernous factory. The tale reveals Vonnegut investigating one of his recurring themes: the isolation brought by technology and the necessity for basic humanity in the workplace. The title story melds a sentimental meditation on the true meaning of Christmas with elements of the mystery genre as a hard-nosed reporter stalks the story of stolen nativity scene characters. While these early stories show an author still testing the boundaries of his craft and obsessions, Vonnegut's acute moral sense and knack for compelling prose are very much on display. In the foreword, Dave Eggers calls Vonnegut "a hippie Mark Twain," which perfectly captures an essential truth about this esteemed author. (Jan.) (c)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Early in his career, before he fused his satirical wit and world-weary intellect in the distinctive, quasi-sf style of Cat’s Cradle (1963) and Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), Vonnegut wrote short stories for mainstream publications, such as Collier’s and The Saturday Evening Post. The 16 unpublished stories in this collection were either not submitted or not accepted, although it is easy to imagine them appearing in those contexts. Tightly and crisply written, they concern cynical newspapermen and the spirit of Christmas (“While Mortals Sleep”), practical jokes taken too far (“Bomar”), the self-sacrifice of a pregnant widow (“Ruth”)—he had lived through the firebombing of Dresden but had not yet explored it in fiction. There are foreshadowings of Vonnegut the cynical sage, however, in “With His Hand on the Throttle,” when a woman dive-bombs her grown son’s overgrown train layout; in “Tango,” when libidinous dancing disrupts a WASP-y enclave; and in “Girl Pool,” in which alienation arrives via the Dictaphone. As in Look at the Birdie (2009), these stories, while clearly seminal, constitute a worthwhile contribution to the author’s oeuvre. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The legendary author’s death in 2007 means an eventual end to unpublished writings, and Vonnegut fans have read all their old paperbacks to tatters. --Keir Graff --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
I have always maintained the parallel between the two men. They were writers, yes. But they were more than writers. They represented the slanted moral voice that could laugh at itself and the culture. These voices were in earnest though; they lacked the facile surface-grazing of the postmodern condition. They speak a truth where writers are afraid to talk about whether you can even capitalize that `t' now.
Kurt Vonnegut died, and his was the only celebrity death I have mourned in a long time. I had long been meaning to make a pilgrimage to his neighborhood. I wanted to intercept him on the street as he walked to the post office or the local bodega to buy his cigarettes. I wanted to stop him and just say "Thank you".
Vonnegut died and left a hole in the soul of America, but he lives on. Thankfully he was prolific and lived long. There have now been three books published since his death. These books are different, but they all show why I love Kurt Vonnegut.
First published was a book of the older stuff, work for websites and highlights of his art. We were able to see the full fruit and flower of a life that spanned an eventful century. Then they put out a collection of his earlier work, including the germ of the story that became _Slaughterhouse-V_.Read more ›
This collection primarily will be of interest to fans of Vonnegut's work who wish to trace his development as a writer back to his early years. Unfortunately (and inexplicably), no bibliographic information is provided about when and where each of the stories originally was published. Nonetheless, Vonnegut fans and other readers could do worse than to sample these warm and entertaining little tales.
For dedicated fans or scholars only.
Picking up While Mortals Sleep was like taking a time machine back into Vonnegut's writing, and I would not have wanted to read him any other way. Reading his heavier novels and then picking up these more innocent stories showed a lighter, but still very subtly deep side of one of my favorite authors. For those who find themselves having a harder time getting into his complex science fiction plots, though, I do recommend reading his short stories. I guarantee that this is an easy way to fall in love with Vonnegut, and to see his efforts at advocating for people to make positive changes before we destroy ourselves and the world.
The stories range in length from eight to 22 pages, but in this short time, I, as a reader, felt extremely invested in his incredibly unique characters.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There is a small set of Vonnegut stories and books coming out since his death and I am treasuring each one (and the few that I somehow missed) as I slowly catch up on all of them.Published 7 days ago by Holistic Mystic
He obviously got a lot better the more he practiced. Don't we all?
He just practiced a lot better than most.
Every once in a while these stories have a Vonnegut like feel to them. However, clearly he was still trying to find the voice that made him famous. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Edward Hetzler
It's Kurt Vonnegut. If you have every read anything from him you will like this book. He is very subtle with his dark humor, and I can't get enough of it.Published 16 months ago by Tracey M.
Found most of the stories to be the very "KV Style" I enjoy.Published on July 18, 2014 by KERRY OBRIEN
This collection of short stories is a lot simpler than Vonnegut's novel length works but they are still first rate and a pleasure to read. Read morePublished on May 19, 2014 by ConcupusAl
I'm an unabashed Vonnegut fan. If you are as well, you will enjoy this collection of shorts -- classic KV.Published on December 9, 2013 by Jeff Kane
I bow to noone in my love of Vonnegut. But there's a reason why these early stories were unpublished: they are not, as a general rule, publishable by anyone but a Great Author... Read morePublished on December 1, 2013 by Dan'l Danehy-Oakes