A few weeks ago, I did a week-long read-a-thon. During that time, I found a bunch of short stories to up my count. I couldn't be happier about that decision, as it totally put me onto Connie Willis and Kurt Vonnegut. Speaking of Vonnegut, I recently found a website about correspondence. (Letters of Note) One of the most popular entries is a letter from Kurt Vonnegut to his family after he was a prisoner of war during WWII. I doubt anyone had any questions about Vonnegut's skill as a writer before that point but as someone who has (a bit embarrassingly, if I'm being honest) not read too much of his work before, I was amazed at his letter-writing skills. I'll definitely be making my way through everything he's written.
Here's what I wrote about Mark Twain's A Telephonic Conversation:
Oh Samuel Clemens, you are hilarious. Mostly because I also love hearing one-sided phone conversations. I make fun of my mother all the time because she tells everyone that her email address is "MY FIRST NAME DOT MY LAST NAME AT GMAIL DOT COM."
Here's a typical one-sided conversation that could've heard me say the other day:
An armadillo? Where were you?
Ha! That's so amazing. The Amish horse looked you straight in the eye?
No, I know you hate movies that came out before 1985.
I guess in October. In Chicago?
I'm glad you have my life goals in mind.
"Annnd I miiiiis youuuuu, like the deserts miiiiss the raaain."
Did you see Tots & Tiaras the other day?
OMG, I know. She totally messed up on her tot walk. And that one lady that was eating drywall afterward?!
I'm not saying you like The Arcade Fire.
Yeah, well I hate you sometimes too.
Now that I think about it, this is a pretty typical phone conversation for me. Anyway, my point is that one-sided phone conversations were ridiculous even at the turn of the century. Mark Twain was just a trendsetter like that.
Read the one-sided conversation that was inflicted on him while he was trying to write here.
And of Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron:
This short story takes about 5 minutes to read and it is absolutely worth it. It is set in a society where, in an effort to make everyone equal, anyone who is above average in any respect is given mechanisms or hindrances by the government to suppress whatever it is they can do. If they are mentally gifted, the Handicapper General (It was written in 1961) gives them an earpiece which plays annoying noises when they are thinking. If a person is attractive, they are forced to wear masks.
The story focuses on a couple and their son, Harrison, who excels at nearly everything and, as such, is covered with more hindrances than any other citizen. At the risk of this review taking you longer to read than the story, I'll stop there. Go read it at http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/harrison...
And Kurt Vonnegut's 2BRO2B:
Man, this was bleak. It is set in a future world where aging can be halted and the average age is somewhere around 130. Because people are living much longer and the planet's resources are depleted, the government keeps the US population at 40 million. The Federal Bureau of Termination provides several ways for people to die if they'd like to give up their life for a newborn. One man is at the hospital waiting for his wife to give birth to triplets, but he doesn't have enough volunteers to die so he'll have to make a choice. Like I said, totally bleak.
Read it here.
Or get it for free on Kindle here.
That's all for now, folks. I'm trying to get back into the blogging swing o' things. I know I've gotten some great recommendations on Goodreads for other short stories but if anyone stumbles upon this blog post, let me know if you have any favorites!