Welcome to the Monkey House [NOOK Book]

Overview

Welcome to the Monkey House is a collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s shorter works. Originally printed in publications as diverse as The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and The Atlantic Monthly, these superb stories share Vonnegut’s audacious sense of humor and extraordinary range of creative vision.
 


From the Trade Paperback ...
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Welcome to the Monkey House

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Overview

Welcome to the Monkey House is a collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s shorter works. Originally printed in publications as diverse as The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and The Atlantic Monthly, these superb stories share Vonnegut’s audacious sense of humor and extraordinary range of creative vision.
 


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Listeners are in for a treat as a masterful cast animates many of Vonnegut's finest short pieces. Vonnegut colors his oft-wondrous works with memorable characters, fantastic realities, pitch-perfect dialogue and heapings of satire and humor-a tall order for any audio actor. But this group of narrators are veterans of screen and stage, each with a unique voice as malleable as clay. It's hard to find fault with this production. Occasionally, Tucci and Irwin oversoften their voices, and listeners may find themselves reaching for the volume. Otherwise, there are very few blemishes. Baker is outstanding in "All the King's Horses" and "The Hyannis Port Story." Strathairn shines on "Tom Edison's Shaggy Dog" and "The Lie." Tucci handles with ease the predominantly male pieces "Go Back to Your Precious Wife and Son" and "Manned Missiles." Irwin inhabits every character. The robust Roberts is both commanding and wry. Given the fertile material and the collective talent of the cast, listeners should expect nothing less than excellence here. They won't be disappointed. Available in paperback from Dell. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

First published in 1968, this collection of Vonnegut's early short stories includes such eclectic modern classics as "Harrison Bergeron," "Who Am I This Time?" "EPICAC," and the title story. This audio is narrated by five moderately well-known actors—Dylan Baker, Bill Irwin, Tony Roberts, David Strathairn, and Maria Tucci—with the result an interesting mix of contrasting styles. Some of the performances enhance Vonnegut's texts, but others fall flat. It's unlikely many listeners will be satisfied with every reading, but the uniformly high quality of the stories ensures that this collection will be in demand. Recommended.
—R. Kent Rasmussen

From the Publisher
“He strips the flesh from bone and makes you laugh while he does it. . . . There are twenty-five stories here, and each hits a nerve ending.”—Charlotte Observer
 
“Vonnegut is George Orwell, Dr. Caligari and Flash Gordon compounded into one writer . . . a zany but moral mad scientist.”—Time

“A great artist.”—Cincinnati Enquirer

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307423443
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/18/2007
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 69,122
  • File size: 858 KB

Meet the Author

Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut was a master of contemporary American literature. His black humor, satiric voice, and incomparable imagination first captured America’s attention in The Sirens of Titan in 1959 and established him, in the words of The New York Times, as “a true artist” with the publication of Cat’s Cradle in 1963. He was, as Graham Greene declared, “one of the best living American writers.” Mr. Vonnegut passed away in April 2007.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Biography

Born in 1922, Vonnegut grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. His architect father suffered great financial setbacks during the Depression and was unemployed for long stretches of time. His mother suffered from mental illness and eventually committed suicide in 1944, a trauma that haunted Vonnegut all his life. He attended Cornell in the early 1940s, but quit in order to enlist in the Army during WWII.

Vonnegut was shipped to Europe, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and was captured behind enemy lines and incarcerated in a German prison camp. As a POW, he witnessed the firebombing of Dresden by Allied forces, an event of devastating magnitude that left an indelible impression on the young soldier.

After the war, Vonnegut returned home and married his high school sweetheart. In addition to two daughters and a son of their own, he and his first wife adopted three children orphaned in 1958 by the death of Vonnegut's sister Alice. (He and his second wife adopted another daughter.) The family lived in Chicago and Schenectady before settling in Cape Cod, where Vonnegut began to concentrate seriously on his writing. His first novel, the darkly dystopian Player Piano, was published in 1952 and met with moderate success. Three additional novels followed (including the critically acclaimed Cat's Cradle), but it was not until the publication of 1969's Slaughterhouse Five that Vonnegut achieved true literary stardom. Based on the author's wartime experiences in Dresden, the novel resonated powerfully in the social upheaval of the Vietnam era.

Although he is best known for his novels (a genre-blending mix of social satire, science fiction, surrealism, and black comedy), Vonnegut also wrote short fiction, essays, and plays (the best known of which was Happy Birthday, Wanda June). In addition, he was a talented graphic artist who illustrated many of his books and exhibited sporadically during his literary career. He died on April 11, 2007, after suffering irreversible brain injuries as a result of a fall.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Kurt Vonnegut
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 11, 1922
    2. Place of Birth:
      Indianapolis, Indiana
    1. Date of Death:
      April 11, 2007
    2. Place of Death:
      New York, New York

Read an Excerpt

Where I Live

Not very long ago, an encyclopedia salesman stopped by America's oldest library building, which is the lovely Sturgis Library in Barnstable Village, on Cape Cod's north shore. And he pointed out to the easily alarmed librarian that the library's most recent general reference work was a 1938 Britannica, backstopped by a 1910 Americana. He said many important things had happened since 1938, naming, among others, penicillin and Hitler's invasion of Poland.

He was advised to take his astonishment to some of the library's directors. He was given their names and addresses. There was a Cabot on the list--and a Lowell and a Kittredge, and some others. The librarian told him that he had a chance of catching several directors all at once, if he would go to the Barnstable Yacht Club. So he went down the narrow yacht club road, nearly broke his neck as he hit a series of terrific bumps put in the road to discourage speeders, to kill them, if possible.

He wanted a martini, wondered if a nonmember could get service at the bar. He was appalled to discover that the club was nothing but a shack fourteen feet wide and thirty feet long, a touch of the Ozarks in Massachusetts. It contained an hilariously warped ping-pong table, a wire lost-and-found basket with sandy, fragrant contents, and an upright piano that had been under a leak in the roof for years.

There wasn't any bar, any telephone, any electricity. There weren't any members there, either. To cap it all, there wasn't a drop of water in the harbor. The tide, which can be as great as fourteen feet, was utterly out. And the so-called yachts, antique wooden Rhodes 18's, Bettlecats, and a couple of Boston Whalers, were resting on the bluish-brown glurp of the emptied harbor's floor. Clouds of gulls and terns were yelling about all that glurp, and about all the good things in it they were finding to eat.

A few men were out there, too, digging clams as fat as partridges from the rim of Sandy Neck, the ten-mile-long sand finger that separates the harbor from the ice-cold bay. And ducks and geese and herons and other waterfowl were out there, too, teemingly, in the great salt marsh that bounds the harbor on the west. And, near the harbor's narrow mouth, a yawl from Marblehead with a six-foot keel lay on her side, waiting for the water to come back in again. She should never have come to Barnstable Village, not with a keel like that.

The salesman, very depressed, insensitive to the barbarous beauty all around him, went to lunch. Since he was in the seat of the most booming county in New England, Barnstable County, and since the boom was a tourist boom, he had reason to expect something mildly voluptuous in the way of a place to eat. What he had to settle for, though, was a chromium stool at a Formica counter in an aggressively un-cute, un-colonial institution called the Barnstable News Store, another Ozarks touch, an Ozarks department store. The motto of the place: "If it's any good, we've got it. If it's no good, we've sold it."

After lunch, he went trustee-hunting again, was told to try the village museum, which is in the old brick Customs House. The building itself is a memorial to long-gone days when the harbor was used by fair-sized ships, before it filled up with all that bluish-brown glurp. There was no trustee there, and the exhibits were excruciatingly boring. The salesman found himself strangling on apathy, an affliction epidemic among casual visitors to Barnstable Village.

He took the customary cure, which was to jump into his car and roar off toward the cocktail lounges, motor courts, bowling alleys, gift shops, and pizzerias of Hyannis, the commercial heart of Cape Cod. He there worked off his frustrations on a miniature golf course called Playland. At that time, that particular course had a pathetic, maddening feature typical of the random butchery of the Cape's south shore. The course was built on the lawn of what had once been an American Legion Post—and, right in the middle of the cunning little bridges and granulated cork fairways was a Sherman tank, set there in simpler and less enterprising days as a memorial to the veterans of World War Two.

The memorial has since been moved, but it is still on the south side, where it is bound to be engulfed by indignities again.

The dignity of the tank would be a lot safer in Barnstable Village, but the village would never accept it. It has a policy of never accepting anything. As a happy consequence, it changes about as fast as the rules of chess.

The biggest change in recent years has taken place at the polls. Until six years ago, the Democratic poll watchers and the Republican poll watchers were all Republicans. Now the Democratic poll watchers are Democrats. The consequences of this revolution have not been nearly as awful as expected—so far.

Another break with the past has to do with the treasury of the local amateur theatrical society, the Barnstable Comedy Club. The club had a treasurer who, once a month for thirty years, angrily refused to say what the balance was, for fear that the club would spend it foolishly. He resigned last year. The new treasurer announced a balance of four hundred dollars and some odd cents, and the membership blew it all on a new curtain the color of spoiled salmon. This ptomaine curtain, incidentally, made its debut during a production of The Caine Mutiny Court Martial in which Captain Queeg did not nervously rattle steel balls in his hand. The balls were eliminated on the theory that they were suggestive.

Another big change took place about sixty years ago, when it was discovered that tuna were good to eat. Barnstable fishermen used to call them "horse mackerel," and curse whenever they caught one. Still cursing, they would chop it up and throw it back into the bay as a warning to other horse mackerel. Out of courage or plain stupidity, the tuna did not go away, and now make possible a post-Labor Day festival called the Barnstable Tuna Derby. Sportsmen with reels as big as courthouse clocks come from all over the Eastern seaboard for the event, the villagers are always mystified as to what brought them. And nobody ever catches anything.

Another discovery that still lies in the future for the villagers to make and to learn to live with is that mussels can be eaten without causing instant death. Barnstable Harbor is in places clogged with them. They are never disturbed. One reason for their being ignored, perhaps, is that the harbor abounds in two other delicacies far simpler to prepare—striped bass and clams. To get clams, one can scratch almost anywhere when the tide is out. To get bass, one follows the birds, looks for cone-shaped formations of them, casts his lure to the place where the cone points. Bass will be feeding there.

As for what else the future holds: Few Cape villages have much chance of coming through the present greedy, tasteless boom with their souls intact. H. L. Mencken once said something to the effect that "Nobody ever went broke overestimating the vulgarity of the American people," and fortunes now being made out of the vulgarization of the Cape surely bear this out. The soul of Barnstable Village just might survive.

For one thing, it is not a hollow village, with everything for rent, with half of the houses empty in the winter. Most of the people live there all year round, and most of them aren't old, and most of them work—as carpenters, salesmen, masons, architects, teachers, writers, and what have you. It is a classless society, a sometimes affectionate and sentimental one.

And these full houses, often riddled by termites and dry rot, but good, probably, for a few hundred years more, have been built chockablock along Main Street since the end of the Civil War. Developers find very little room in which to work their pious depredations. There is a seeming vast green meadow to the west, but this is salt marsh, the bluish-brown glurp capped by a mat of salt hay. It was this natural hay, by the way, that tempted settlers down from Plymouth in 1639. The marsh, laced by deep creeks that can be explored by small boats, can never be built upon by anyone sane. It goes underwater at every moon tide, and is capable of supporting a man and his dog, and not much more.

Speculators and developers got very excited for a while about the possibility of improving Sandy Neck, the long, slender barrier of spectacular dunes that bounds the harbor on the north. There are grotesque forests of dead trees out there, trees suffocated by sand, then unburied again. And the outer beach, for all practical purposes infinite, puts the beach of Acapulco to shame. Surprisingly, too, fresh water can be had out there from quite shallow wells. But the local government, thank God, is buying up all of Sandy Neck but the tip, at the harbor mouth, and is making it a public park to be kept unimproved forever.

There is a tiny settlement on the tip of the neck, the tip that the government is not taking over. It is clustered around the abandoned lighthouse, a lighthouse that was once needed when there was water enough around to let big ships come and go. The bleached and tacky settlement can be reached only by boat or beach buggy. There is no electricity there, no telephone. It is a private resort. Less than a mile from Barnstable Village, the tip of the neck is where many villagers go when they need a vacation.

And all of the anachronistic, mildly xenophobic, charming queerness of Barnstable Village might entitle it to the epithet, "Last Stronghold of the True Cape Codders," if it weren't for one thing: Hardly anyone in the village was born on Cape Cod. Just as petrified wood is formed by minerals slowly replacing organic materials, so has the present-day petrified Barnstable been formed by persons from Evanston and Louisville and Boston and Pittsburgh and God-only-knows-where-else, slowly replacing authentic rural Yankees.

If the real Cape Codders could rise from their churchyard graves, cast aside their beautifully lettered slate headstones, and attend a meeting of the Barnstable Village Civic Association, they would approve of the proceedings. Every proposal that has ever come before the organization has been hotly debated and voted down, except that a new siren be bought for the rescue truck. The siren goes bweep-bweep-bweep instead of rowrrr, and is guaranteed to be audible at a distance of three miles.

The library, incidentally, now has a new Britannica, and a new Americana, too, purchases it made effortlessly, since it has money coming out of its ears. But so far, the school marks of the children and the conversation of the adults have not conspicuously improved.

Since the village exists for itself, and not for passersby, and since it specializes in hastening tourists on to paradises elsewhere, visitors play hell finding anything to like about it. For a quick sample of how good it can be, a visitor might stop off at St. Mary's Church on Main Street, which has, unadvertised anywhere, the most enchanting church garden in America. The garden is the work of one man, Robert Nicholson, an Episcopalian minister, a good man who died young.

At a village cocktail party one time—and the villagers do drink a lot—Father Nicholson was talking to a Roman Catholic and a Jew, trying to find a word to describe the underlying spiritual unity of Barnstable. He found one. "We're Druids," he said.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Table of Contents

Preface xiii
Where I Live 1
Harrison Bergeron 7
Who Am I This Time? 15
Welcome to the Monkey House 30
Long Walk to Forever 51
The Foster Portfolio 59
Miss Temptation 75
All the King's Horses 90
Tom Edison's Shaggy Dog 111
New Dictionary 118
Next Door 124
More Stately Mansions 134
The Hyannis Port Story 147
D.P. 161
Report on the Barnhouse Effect 173
The Euphio Question 189
Go Back to Your Precious Wife and Son 206
Deer in the Works 222
The Lie 238
Unready to Wear 254
The Kid Nobody Could Handle 270
The Manned Missiles 284
Epicac 297
Adam 306
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow 315
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 76 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 76 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2005

    Creative and inspirational

    this is the best compilation of short storys ever compiled by one author. All of them are very different but each keeps you interested. I had to find a short story for my creative writing class so i chose this. It was difficult to choose which story i should pick because each reaches out to a different part of you.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2012

    Amazing!

    This collections of short stories is simply splendid! Some of Vonnegut's best work, my personal favorite is "Who am I This Time?" This is a great buy and the stories can be enjoyed over and over again.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2007

    A reviewer

    I've been told to read titles by this author unfortunately I could not find very many on audio, which is the only way I can read books due to a physical disability When I heard Mr. Vonnegut had died on searched for days I finally sound this title and slaughterhouse five along with breakfast champions and hocus-pocus. I am working my way through them all this is by far the best collection of short stories I have ever read. The stories are poignant and sometimes funny that will make you laugh as well as cry. Mr. Vonnegut you truly were legend who understood the human condition. You will be remembered a long with Great American writers like Mark Twain and Herman Melville. Rest in peace great man we will Miss you.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2005

    Welcome to the Monkey House

    These stories changed my life. Vonnegut's imagination is like nothing else i've read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2004

    Great stories and a spooky prediction

    A collection of great stories by Vonnegut. I especially enjoyed Harrison Bergeron. A frightening prediction of the future of political correctness.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2003

    Understanding the author

    The first title of Vonnegut's that I read was 'Sirens of Titan' followed by 'Breakfast of Champions'. 'Welcome to the Monkey House' is truly the window to see within Vonneguts' brain. Just about the time you believe you have the author's style of writing understood by reading a couple of his novels you read 'Welcome to ...' and are hit by a series of stories that reveals an insightfulness into human nature that is so pure that you can easily be absorbed into the story, relating to your own life's experiences - both the joys and the disappointments. I recommend this book not only due to the incredible insight Vonnegut reveals in man's emotions and nature but also as an example to aspiring writers revealing both the depth and dimension of an author who 'understands'how to convey to the reader emotions that can be felt coming off of the page.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2001

    Not a Giggle-Box!

    These stories are not funny at all. These are very serious stories - tear-jerkers. My favorite was 'The Kid Nobody Could Handle'. This is a must read for any Kurt Vonnegut fan.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 19, 2009

    This review is about the story Harrison Bergeron

    I think that this book was a good depiction of what life could be like if everything was equal. It would be unfair to people with outstanding strengths, talents, and abilities. This story was about Harrison Bergeron and how he broke the chains of living in equality.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2014

    Great compilation!

    This is an essential collection for any Vonnegut fans or fans of short stories in general. Welcome to the Monkeyhouse effectively showcases Vonnegut's humor and imagination while still delving into darker ideas. Definitely not for the reader who merely craves a happy ending!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2012

    Love the stories. Lots of typos in this version.

    Love the stories. Lots of typos in this version.

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  • Posted June 11, 2012

    "Gee-I could tell that one was a doozy."

    I loved Harrison Bergeron but I wish BN sold the movie 2081 i had to order it from somewhere else.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2004

    Tooooo crazy

    Everything in that book was way too imaginative. I couldn't believe the ideas that Kurt Vonnegut has come up with. This book is unlike his other books, which to me aren't that interesting. Welcome to the Monkey House is an awesome book that I think the sheltered should read. It broadens your mind and initiates brain cells to wonder to not even a full potential. Overall, I loved the book and my favourite was 'Harrison Bergeron' Read it folks because you'll never read another book like it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2002

    The Best Books

    If you like to read a book that you can never put down then this is a book for you!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2002

    Read this Book!

    This book is one of my favorites! It is the first that I have read by Vonnegut and I will definately be reading more of his work. I enjoyed every single story, especially 'Who am I this time?', 'Harrison Bergeson', 'The Kid Nobdy could Handle', and 'More Stately Mansions'. Anyone can read this. Plus the short stories are a nice change if you are used to reading novels. Definately read this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2000

    Entertaining

    Each of Vonnegut's stories are entertaining. I couldn't put the book down. He has an amazing imagination.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 76 Customer Reviews

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