It’s been almost a week since the meeting of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library book club (or KVMLBC I’m going to call it from now on), and I’ve never commented on how the meeting went – until now. Once again, there were ten attendees. Nine were repeats from last month, and we had one new attendee to make up for the one person from last month who didn’t show this time. One poor member had read Mother Night by mistake – that’s the book we’re reading for this month (meeting Thursday, November 18th at 11:30 am). He stayed and listened in anyway, though.
Of course, it’s hard to talk about 25 different stories in just about an hour of meeting time and, after I left, I began to think “Hmm… let’s see… which ones did we not talk about at all?”. As near as I can tell, we “left out” seven of the stories, which I’m calling The Orphans of the Monkey House.
For a couple of the stories, I didn’t find it particularly surprising. “Where I Live” and “New Dictionary” were not too deep compared to the others, though there was some worthy humor in both. Another that was left out that I didn’t care about was “Adam” – a story about contrasting expectant fathers. There were a couple more that were decent enough stories, but perhaps not worthy of discussion at the expense of the other stories in the book. In that group, I’d put the stories “The Kid Nobody Could Handle” and “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow.” The latter of those two, however, was a tough call. It’s about a future where life expectancy has been drastically extended, and the consequences thereof. This would be considered more typical Vonnegut fare, but it didn’t “make the cut” either.
Now, however, we come to two stories that I really enjoyed but were still orphaned by our group. First, there was “The Foster Portfolio.” This was a tale that dealt with a kind of financial advisor and his newest client who, on the surface at least, seemed rather poor and “a waste of effort” for the advisor. This turns out not to be the case at all, however, as the man (Foster) is so much more than meets the eye. I really enjoyed how, as the reader, I was introduced to the multiple layers of this character. Sadly, though, this story didn’t make the cut either.
The last “orphan” was one of my favorite stories in the book, “Deer in the Works” (which I’ve already blogged about in an earlier post). I don’t know why we didn’t get to this one. It may have just been a victim of the number of stories there were to cover. I certainly hope it’s not due to a perceived lack of merit by my fellow members.
For my part, I always seem to pick a few stories out of any collection to designate as “favorites” or at least standing out among the rest. If I pick up any short story anthology from my bookshelf at home and look at the table of contents, there will always be few stories marked with an asterisk (sometimes two!) which I know are worthy of reading again.
Have you read Welcome to the Monkey House? Which were your favorites? If any of my fellow KVMLBC members are reading this, how did you feel about which stories were discussed and which were not?