September 29, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction

Current Status
In Season
Kurt Vonnegut
Fiction, Short Stories
We gave it a B+

Kurt Vonnegut’s stories in Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction, written for magazines in the ’50s and early ’60s, can’t be mistaken for anyone else’s, ranging as they do from sci-fi (”2BRO2B,” a nightmare zero-population-growth utopia) to echoes of World War II (”Der Arme Dolmetscher”).

As Vonnegut points out in his introduction, the stories are shards of a vanished civilization — that remote pre-TV epoch when popular magazines published several short stories per issue, when readers devoutly devoured them, and when a young writer in search of his voice could support his family by churning them out. Mild as most of them are, these tales are worth reading; with the other early stories in ”Welcome to the Monkey House,” they provide fans the complete test-tube Vonnegut.

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