We Are What We Pretend to Be – Vonnegut’s “Alpha and Omega” Stories

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I just finished reading the second half of this book, which purports to contain author Kurt Vonnegut’s “first and last works.” I already posted about the first one, “Basic Training,” which I enjoyed. The second one was not as well received – by this reader anyway.

The second novella, “If God Were Alive Today,” is the rambling story of Gil Berman, a brilliant but greatly troubled comedian. To me it was too much of a re-telling of themes that we regular readers of Vonnegut have encountered many times before. This one was unfinished as of the author’s death in 2007, and I think you can tell.

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“Excuse me, stewardess, I speak Vonnegut” (taking some liberties with June Cleaver’s – er, Barbara Billingsley’s dialogue in Airplane)

What it did contain, however, was something I’ve noted at the meetings of The book club of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis. Vonnegut comes up with (often hilarious) new definitions for commonplace things. I threatened before to “come up with a quiz” including some of these so here it is:

Do YOU speak “Vonnegut?”

Match the term Vonnegut uses with the “real life” word or words. Admittedly,some of these are just traditional ’similes’ I guess, but nonetheless, lets see how you do…  (I’ll post the ‘answer key’ as a comment in a few days)

vonnegut matching

Oh and I also learned a new word from this novella. Do you know what puttees are? You’ve seen them. They are the leggings frequently worn by British soldiers in World War I (see picture below)

Woolwraps

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5 Comments

  1. Dale said,

    July 25, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    I’m making my way through Monkey House and enjoying it. I also found out what puttees are when I read A Farewell to Arms.

    Like

    • Jay said,

      July 26, 2013 at 12:11 pm

      Hi Dale,
      Some day I’ll start doing a “words I learned in my last book” post feature. Or maybe just “interesting” words I learned. (If I included them all it would be too long!)
      -Jay

      Like

  2. Jay said,

    July 27, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Answers (from top to bottom):
    G
    K
    M
    A
    D
    I
    N
    E
    C
    F
    H
    L
    J
    B

    Like

  3. Ti said,

    August 2, 2013 at 10:12 am

    My first experience with Vonnegut was not good but I will try another book and see how it goes.

    Like

    • Jay said,

      August 5, 2013 at 7:26 am

      Hi Ti,
      I’d recommend the stories in “Welcome to the Monkey House” as a “gateway drug” read. 🙂
      -Jay

      Like


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