Sunday, June 21, 2009
Bagombo Snuff Box
Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Fiction
© 1999 Kurt Vonnegut
For some reason, I enjoy reading Kurt Vonnegut. I find his novels and most of the short stories I've read of his hard to follow, but I enjoy them still. I was delighted to find this book a collection of very readable short stories -- twenty-two, in fact, with an introduction by Vonnegut and a "Coda to my Career as a Writer for Periodicals" serving as literary bookends. He refers to them as a collection of "Buddhist catnaps". The stories seem to be of his early works (pre-1953), and their settings are diverse. One takes place in Czechoslovaka as the war ends, while most seem to be set in immediate or early post-WW2 America. There is at least one speculative fiction story covering the otherworldly results from the US military's attempt to put an intelligence operative into Earth orbit. Interestingly, three of the stories involve the same character -- a high-school band teacher whose obsession with winning every band competition he can provides fuel for conflict. There are a lot of interesting stories here --what happens a brutal Godfather-type character who pretends to be Santa Claus is one of them. Most of the stories seem to be sly commentary about some issue or another, but even without this they would be quite enjoyable. If you can find it, do give it a try.