It’s hard to believe that a person could be such a brilliant, en pointe writer for so very long. Many of the stories (if not all?) in Look at the Birdie seem to have been written later in Vonnegut’s life. The illustrations are all from the few years before Vonnegut died in April, 2007. Somehow, incredibly, these works are as mesmerizing, as darkly humorous, and as meaningful as any of his previous works – including Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse-Five. I have more experience with Vonnegut the novelist than I do with Vonnegut the essayist or short story writer (though I did read A Man Without A Country – also brilliant!) but, I must say, I am so grateful to the publishers and family for allowing a posthumous printing of these incredible pieces. Particular favorites include “Petrified Ants,” “Confido,” and “Hall of Mirrors.” The Sci-Fi/Fantasy element is certainly still there, as well as Vonneguts interest in the super/paranormal; still, as always, Vonnegut manages to incorporate these elements so naturally, so realistically, that it’s almost impossible to separate them as fiction from the fiction. This is an absolutely solid anthology of short fiction from one of the best and greatest American writers and satirists of all time – and a must for any Vonnegut fan.
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You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence. Octavia E. Butler
My life as a black, disabled teenager
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