I’ve spoken about Kurt Vonnegut in the past, noting him to be someone with extremely dry wit and a dark, morose sense of humor that perfectly creeps its way into his novels. The humor–a part of Vonnegut’s legacy that has helped cement him as one of America’s best writers–is peppered in fluidly and smoothly, funny without being too funny. His works aren’t pieces of comedy, they’re brilliant stories that help bring science fiction into the hands of readers of all ages that just happen to also make you laugh as you read them.
Like almost any author, Vonnegut has come to be known for a limited array of just one or two works. Notably, his classic semi-autobiographical work Slaughterhouse-Five. However, digging deeper into the other works of Vonnegut can give readers a more clear insight into Vonnegut as a writer and his capabilities as a storyteller.
Here are three of Vonnegut’s lesser-known, but very highly appreciable works of fiction.
One of Vonnegut’s older works and one that isn’t necessarily as well known as even the others on this list, Galapagos brings to the forefront the mysteries and tribulations of evolution and the human psyche.
After being stranded on an island, a group of humans is forced to deal with the perils of infertility and unknown, strange species on the island.
The deceased Kilgore Trout–a mainstay in Vonnegut’s novels–makes an appearance. His son Leon acts as the book’s deceased narrator, who watches as evolution plays out before his eyes–everything from survival of the fittest and Darwin’s natural selection to the development of new organs and features of the humans.
Breakfast of Champions
Perhaps not necessarily the most obscure of Vonnegut’s works, Breakfast of Champions is one of the funniest and most entertaining works of the beloved author.
The reader watches as Dwayne Hoover slowly falls deeper and deeper into the realm of insanity as he believes everything he reads within the writings of fiction writer Kilgore Trout (there he is again). Within the pages of Breakfast of Champions, Vonnegut scrawls out signs that Trout sees within his stay in Michigan and human anatomy parts he wants to ensure the reader is familar with. Breakfast of Champions is a must read for anyone who enjoys Vonnegut or other writers with a similar style.
Welcome to the Monkey House
If you prefer short stories to longer novels, Welcome to the Monkey House is your best bet. Contained within its pages are 25 short stories by the brilliantly funny writer, including the namesake of the book, “Welcome to the Monkey House,” which was originally published in Playboy Magazine. Each story carries within it a deeper meaning that the surface would imply, each will make you laugh, and each will make you wish you had picked up a copy of it earlier.
Welcome to the Monkey House is probably Vonnegut’s most famous collection of short stories, a genre which is under appreciated as a whole today. Unlike his novels, Vonnegut’s short stories are quick and easy to read on a break at work or in the evening before bed. And, very much like his novels, they are moving, powerful and very, very funny.