So...I don't think I'm exactly the right type of person for short stories. I'm probably too impatient to keep reading to really sit back and absorb each story for what it is, and to really digest what Vonnegut was trying to say in each story. I'm the same way with poetry. Anyway, my reading habits notwithstanding, I still enjoyed this collection, though the stories just sort of live in my head as fleeting images. Each one is just a small glimpse into a different world. I'm often a little dismayed when I come to the end of each story, since I'm the kind of person who always wants to know what happens next, and why these fleeting images can sometimes be unsatisfying. On the other hand, other stories I think are quite well contained in their few pages, and make for a well-rounded story in and of itself. Am I making sense? Probably not.
I still can't think of a good way to describe Vonnegut. He seems to defy classification, and the stories contained in "Welcome to the Monkey House" agree. Perhaps it's just my lack of willingness to put the time into fully analyzing it, but I don't sense an overarching theme to the collection - as I said, in my mind, they're just a series of disjointed images. Each one does just as well on its own as it does in a collection, I'd imagine. I was surprised to learn that I'd also read one of the stories too; in a high school lit class, we read "Harrison Bergeron," and here I'd thought that I'd never read Vonnegut before recently. Ah well - it was still a good story the second time around. I appreciate how Vonnegut writes everything so matter-of-factly. He doesn't blink an eye in describing the worlds he's created - where people 130 years old are considered young, where supercomputers can write poetry, a world where everything is equal. He never seems to judge these worlds outright - he just tells you what they are and lets you make up your own mind about them. Man...now I wish I'd gone to hear him speak in Madison.
Anyway, it's a good collection of stories, but I'll probably end up sticking with novels for awhile. It's surprising the different mind set you need to read something like this.
For some reason, I find it harder to read short stories than actual novel, perhaps because I want to know what happens next and with short stories, there isn't much "next." That being said, each of these stories has something different to offer, whether it's a moral or something just for entertainment value. Each of them got me thinking in some way. I especially enjoy Vonnegut's futuristic stories, probably because "Harrison Bergeron" was the first one I read because it was part of the curriculum for a class I taught a while back, and that story made me want to read Vonnegut's other works. Besides the more sci-fi oriented or futuristic stories, I really enjoyed "Long Walk to Forever" and "Who Am I This Time?" which were more like mini-love stories and didn't quite fit the theme of some of Vonnegut's other works in this collection. All in all, there is something for everyone here.