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Welcome to the Monkey House
Welcome to the Monkey House
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Welcome To The Monkey House is a collection of Kurt Vonnuegut's shorter works. Originally printed in publications as diverse as "The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction" and "The Atlantic Monthly," what these superb stories share is Vonnegut's audacious sense of humor and extraordinary r...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780385333504
ISBN-10: 0385333501
Publication Date: 9/8/1998
Pages: 352
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.

4.1 stars, based on 72 ratings
Publisher: Delta
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette
Members Wishing: 2
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed Welcome to the Monkey House on + 32 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
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. 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.
demiducky25 avatar reviewed Welcome to the Monkey House on + 161 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
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.
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terez93 avatar reviewed Welcome to the Monkey House on + 273 more book reviews
Kurt, I've missed you.

It's been a few months since I've read his immortal musings, owing to some personal strife, which, in fact, is when you need him the most. In truth, I'm bearing down on the last of his (officially) published works, so I'm wondering if the avoidance is at least in part due to my reluctance to reach the end of the road, one officially begun in 2019, when I started to re-read the entire corpus of Kurt Vonnegut's published works. I've held off on "The Sirens of Titan," as I want that one to be the last I read... a fitting way to conclude a life-changing journey with someone I wish I had been better acquainted with long before now. I know I wouldn't have appreciated his incisive wit and cynicism in my youth, however, so it's probably better this way.

So, the monkey house. Kurt starts off with one of my favorite quotes ever, by Thoreau:

Beware of all enterprises
that require new clothes.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

This is a collection of some of Kurt's most beloved short stories, mostly from the 1950s and 60s, with an initial publication date of 1968. They run the gamut from poignant vignettes that could have been inspired by the author's collective memories, to the sci-fi variety rivaling those of his buddy Isaac Asimov (a very famous one, entitled "Harrison Bergeron," about the handicapper general, is included here, which also seems to have been stock in high-school readers, which is where I first encountered it - that may have been my first exposure to Kurt Vonnegut's works, actually).

Most actually appeared in other publications, which somewhat explains the variety, intended to appeal to readers of varying interests. "Harrison Bergeron," for example, appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, with others featuring in Ladies Home Journal, Collier's Magazine, Esquire, Cosmopolitan, The Saturday Evening Post and The New York Times, and even Playboy (1968). Quirky, fantastical and always profound, imbued with his visions of the world, both inspiring and dystopic, this volume is a precursor to what was to come.

I have to say I'm somewhat pleased that efforts to take Kurt's works mass-market have largely met with failure. I wish more people read him, but I hate to see profound works dumbed down for the masses. Not that efforts have not been made, but the results have turned out largely how you might expect: this collection of stories was made into a TV series in 1991, entitled "Kurt Vonnegut's Monkey House," which aired on Showtime, but, of course, that didn't last long. It's impossible to make these stories palatable to the masses, because there's just so much depth beneath the surface, which most people won't get. A few have met with critical success, such as the 1970 play, and a few of the stories, including "D.P." (displaced person) in 1985.

It's difficult to write at great length on this kind of collection, so I'll just sum up in saying that all of the stories herein in some way feature the moral lessons, or warnings, that Kurt's other writings have: they explore the mundane and often dark side of human nature, exposing the multi-faceted foibles and frailties of mankind for all to see, which is, perhaps the point. Our own natures are often our own worst enemies, but that's something which we all share and can relate to, resulting in a oneness that is perhaps sometimes overlooked.

Another prominent theme of this collection seems to be an uncomfortable, disquieting fear and perhaps loathing (or at least profound discomfort) of modernity, especially technological advancement, which is manifest in his numerous dystopic short stories which date from the 50s and 60s. I've always considered Kurt something of a Luddite, what with his love of life's simple pleasures, and it's pretty much confirmed herein. Considering that the post-war world was still coming to terms with the atomic age, that's perhaps not surprising for someone as profoundly affected with combat PTSD as Kurt was, who had to wonder with new horror at what future lie ahead - if any.

And I'm discovering now that this book wraps up my 2022 Reading Challenge... and what a way to end! I didn't get through nearly as many as in previous years, but hoping to make up some ground in 2023, with a book a week. That should be a reasonable goal for me and my new reading glasses!
The public health authorities never mention the main reason many Americans have for smoking heavily, which is that smoking is a fairly sure, fairly honorable form of suicide.

I like to say that the 51st state is the state of denial.
-To The Associated Press, 2005

Who was it, Gore Vidal? Who said, "I don't care how original you think you are, somebody somewhere, at some point, has already said it better than you."
vondeitch avatar reviewed Welcome to the Monkey House on + 3 more book reviews
I just finished this book of short stories and LOVED IT! While some stories really stuck with me, especially D.P. which almost brought me to tears, there was not a bad story in the lot. Vonnegut referred to these stories as the ones he sold to write the stories he wanted. I can see that as these are a little more "commercial" than some of his novels. A good blend of science fiction, social commentary and, now, nostalgia as most of these were published in the 50's and 60's.

Really fun read that is easy to pick up and put down. Highly recommended!