Look at the Birdie

Look at the Birdie

Unpublished Short Fiction

Book - 2009
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Look at the Birdie is a collection of fourteen previously unpublished short stories from one of the most original writers in all of American fiction. In this series of perfectly rendered vignettes, written just as he was starting to find his comic voice, Kurt Vonnegut paints a warm, wise, and funny portrait of life in post World War II America - a world where squabbling couples, high school geniuses, misfit office workers, and small-town lotharios struggle to adapt to changing technology, moral ambiguity, and unprecedented affluence. Here are tales both cautionary and hopeful, each brimming with Vonnegut's trademark humor and profound humanism. A family learns the downside of confiding their deepest secrets into a magical invention. A man finds himself in a Kafkaesque world of trouble after he runs afoul of the shady underworld boss who calls the shots in an upstate New York town. A quack psychiatrist turned "murder counselor" concocts a novel new outlet for his paranoid patients. While these stories reflect the anxieties of the postwar era that Vonnegut was so adept at capturing--and provide insight into the development of his early style--collectively, they have a timeless quality that makes them just as relevant today as when they were written. It's impossible to imagine any of these pieces flowing from the pen of another writer; each in its own way is unmistakably, quintessentially Vonnegut. Featuring a Foreword by author and longtime Vonnegut confidant Sidney Offit and illustrated with Vonnegut's characteristically insouciant line drawings, Look at the Birdie is an unexpected gift for readers who thought his unique voice had been stilled forever - and serves as a terrific introduction to his short fiction for anyone who has yet to experience his genius.
Publisher: New York : Delacorte Press, c2009
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780385343718
Branch Call Number: FIC Vonn
Characteristics: 251p

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r
Raiiner
Mar 26, 2011

This was the second book from Kurt that I've read (after Cat's Cradle) and I liked it much more. Definitely worth the time you'll spend on it.

daymakerdave Feb 11, 2011

love this book!

d
derekwolfgram
Nov 29, 2010

here was an article in the Washington Post a couple weeks ago about the estates of prominent authors (in this case, Douglas Adams, A.A. Milne, and Bram Stoker) hiring folks to write "authorized" sequels. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/21/AR2009102103759.html God help us if Vonnegut's estate ever follows this path.

That being said, how can the world not be made a better place by the publication of more Vonnegut? His incredible wit, intense humanism, and insight into the human character were unparalleled. Chances are, as long as his unpublished ouevre keeps being mined for more, I'll keep buying them, most likely with mixed feelings about the works.

Look at the Birdie is a great example: it provides some early, poignant examples of short stories demonstrating the development of Vonnegut's trademark style. On his way to becoming the greatest novelist of the 20th century, he began his career writing short stories for a number of pulp magazines, with his gift for brevity often in direct competition with the "pay by the word" approach of these publications. If the stories in this collection remind me of anything, it's the surprise twist at the denouement of O. Henry's short stories.

From the winning attitude of Francine from the "Girl Pool" who brings new light into the life of a bureaucrat who thinks he's in a dead end position in "FUBAR" to the frightening but familiar portrait of small town politics in "Ed Luby's Key Club," these stories illuminate the vagaries of life in the way that only Vonnegut could. I'm glad there are still some opportunities left to experience his unique perspective on the world.

s
symbiotix
Aug 16, 2010

Some great and not so great short stories from KV here. I would highly recommend the book strictly for "King and Queen of the Universe"... Easily one of Kurt's most direct and touching shorts ever.

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