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Month in review

Reviews:
The Alarming Letters from Scottsdale by Warner Law
Brother by James Fredericks
Bubbles Betrothed by Sarah Strohmeyer
Bunny Modern by David Bowman
Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille by Steven Brust
A Day With My Dad by Lance Waite
Dirt: An American Campaign by Mark LaFlamme
Divine Freefall by Beth Wiseman
50/50 by Dean Karnazes
Game Widow by Wendy Kays
Gateway by Frederik Pohl
How the Day Runs Down by John Langan
If You Give a Cat a Cupcake by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond
Jim the Boy by Tony Earley
Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore
Margarettown by Garbrielle Zevin
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
Memphis: Objects, Furniture & Patterns by Richard Horn
The Minutemen's Witch by Charles Coleman Finlay
The New Writer's Handbook by Ted Kooser
One Crossed Out by Fanny Howe
The Once and Future Celt by Bill Watkins
Peter Hatches and Egg by Louise Bienvenu-Brialmont
Raindrop Plop! by
Ripley Under Water by Patricia Highsmith
A Skeptical Spirit by Albert E. Cowdrey
Smash Trash by Laura Driscoll
Sunsets and Shooting Stars by Rick Seidel
The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White
Uh-oh, Calico! by Karma Wilson
We Come Not to Praise Washington by Charles Coleman Finlay
Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
What Makes a Rainbow? by Betty Ann Schwartz
Zodiac by Neal Stephenson

Don Quixote:
Book 3
Book 4: Chapters 28-37
Book 4: End of Part 1

Miscellaneous:
Top Ten Lists

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5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish


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Welcome to the Monkey House: 12/04/08

Welcome to the Monkey House is a collection of short stories written by Kurt Vonnegut in the 1950s and 1960s. The collection was first printed in 1970.

Despite the age of the stories, they hold up remarkably well. Vonnegut's tales are character driven explorations of basic human emotions and needs. Although the collection can be classified as science fiction, not all of the stories have science fiction elements. The science fiction is a means to an end, not a gimmick.

The book's title comes from the fourth story. It is a look at the world in the future, over populated with mostly with people who look forever stuck in their twenties thanks to advances in medicine. To keep the population down, people are forced to take "ethical birth control " and everyone is encouraged to do their part by offing themselves at the local suicide parlor (conveniently located next door to the government run Howard Johnson's). There is something deliciously Futurama about "Welcome to the Monkey House " (1968).

My over all experience with Welcome to the Monkey House was enjoyable but there were some stories that fell short. Among those is "All the Kings Horses " (1953), a chess game played with prisoners of war. It feels out of place with the sillier stories in the collection, "Tom Edison's Shaggy Dog " (1953) for example. The other hit against it, is that I had just finished re-reading Waiting for the Barbarians which has many of the same themes but presented better.

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