“For completists, this will be like a boxed set of a musician’s early work — Vonnegut’s Sun Studio sessions … It’s fascinating to watch him work themes that would later animate his 14 novels and five books of nonfiction: the cruel stupidity of war, the dehumanizing dangers of technology, the distillation of American values into mere greed and selfishness. Longtime readers will recognize familiar Vonnegut characters and settings alongside pleas for peace and personal decency. Throughout, too, there runs Vonnegut’s 30-year attempt to find a narrative form to contain the horrors of Dresden, bits of his masterpiece ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ sprinkled like ash in stories such as ‘Great Day,’ in which the author first uses time travel to write about war.
“It’s also fun watching a young Vonnegut try on other styles, as in his nod to noir, ‘Mr. Z,’ in which a theology student interviews a woman in prison, ‘a trinket brunette … hard as nails,’ who, talking about an old boyfriend’s death, ‘didn’t sound sorry. She didn’t even sound interested.'” –Jess Walter, New York Times Book Review
“There are wonderful lines, sentences, and whole paragraphs throughout the collection; it is full of constructions that are funny, clever, and unexpected….
”There are 19 stories in the section labeled “War,” and the effects of war are felt in others too. A moral discomfort and ambiguity informs most of them. People in wartime, Vonnegut tells us, are selfish, corrupt, unheroic: that’s what war has done to them, but to understand all is not necessarily to forgive all. The distinction between the good guys and the bad guys is never simple or clear cut, but that’s not an occasion for cynicism, rather for even finer shades of moral distinction…..
”Generosity and decency seem to be the two qualities Vonnegut values most, even as he recognizes their fragility and rarity.”–Geoff Nicholson, Los Angeles Review of Books
“Vonnegut’s writing explodes with disquieting warnings and lessons that continue to ring true for contemporary readers.” —Huffington Post
“Kurt Vonnegut: Complete Stories is a deep dive into one of the great minds in American literature: morally serious, formally adventurous, and topically diverse. A reader could happily spend years wandering around in this book.” –Matthew Sharpe, bestselling author of The Sleeping Father and Jamestown
“This book is big in size and significance … Meant to get readers thinking, these stories both preserve a lost world and showcase Vonnegut’s phenomenal prescience. In his foreword, Dave Eggers pinpoints another key trait: Vonnegut wrote “moral stories” meant to “tell us what’s right and what’s wrong, and . . . how to live.” In our time of dangerous ambiguity, Vonnegut’s clarity is restorative, his artistry and imagination affirming.” –Booklist