The Short Fiction of Kurt Vonnegut

The Short Fiction of Kurt Vonnegut

by Peter Reed


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Kurt Vonnegut's career as a novelist encompasses virtually the whole second half of the twentieth century, and his novels are among the most widely read in America. Yet Vonnegut enjoyed another successful career as a short story writer. His short fiction brought him much acclaim in the early years of his writing career and made him visible to a very large audience. His stories were illustrated by some of the best artists in the business and were featured prominently in leading magazines such as Collier's the Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal, Cosmopolitan, and Argosy. Commentary on Vonnegut has generally separated his career as a novelist from his career as a short story writer. This volume provides a detailed analysis of Vonnegut's short fiction and shows that his short stories are an integral part of his overall canon.

The short stories do not simply precede Vonnegut's novels. There is an extensive overlap of the publication of his novels and his shorter works. In writing short fiction, Vonnegut learned and practiced many of the skills and techniques that he employs in his novels. This volume begins by examining the relationship of the short fiction to the larger body of Vonnegut's writings. It then examines Vonnegut's earliest training as a writer, during his high school years and as a college journalist. The chapters that follow are then devoted to later periods in his life, the development of his short stories, and the recurrence of their techniques and content in Vonnegut's novels. The study concludes with a reassessment of the importance of the short story to Vonnegut's canon.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780313302350
Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date: 10/30/1997
Series: Contributions to the Study of American Literature Series , #1
Pages: 200
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.63(d)
Lexile: 1350L (what's this?)

About the Author

PETER J. REED is Professor of English at the University of Minnesota. In 1972 he published the first book-length treatment of Vonnegut, Writers for the 'Seventies: Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. He has contributed critical essays to several collections on Vonnegut, and his biographical sketches appear in such standard works as The Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography, Dictionary of Literary Biography, ribner's American Writers, gill's Survey of American Literature, and Postmodern Fiction: A Bio-Bibliographical Guide. With Marc Leeds, he is the editor of The Vonnegut Chronicles: Interviews and Essays (Greenwood, 1996). Like Vonnegut, Reed is a survivor of aerial bombardment—his childhood home in London was destroyed by the Blitz.

Table of Contents



Placing the Short Fiction

Apprenticeship: High School and College Journalism

The Early Stories: Collier's

The Prolific Years: 1953-1958

The Later Stories: 1960-1963

The Collections: Canary in A Cat House and Welcome to the Monkey House

The Novels: Stories, Mosaics and Jokes

Other Voices: Kilgore Trout

The Short Fiction and the Canon

Appendix: Checklist of Vonnegut Contributions to the Shortridge Echo and the Cornell Sun by M. Andre Eckenrode



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