Monday, February 27, 2012

Look At The Birdie - Kurt Vonnegut

This week, I'll be featuring some random stories read over the past few weeks and hence won't fall into any particular theme.

Story: Look At The Birdie

Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Source: Look At the Birdie: Unpublished Fiction by Kurt Vonnegut
Story Number: 58
Kurt Vonnegut, most famous for his novel Slaughterhouse-Five, has quite a few short story collections to his credit as well. While Mortals Sleep (2011) & Look At The Birdie (2009) are the 2 most recent ones published posthumously. They do not contain mystery stories per say but the latter title could serve as a terrific introduction to his short fiction for those who aren’t acquainted with him. The 14 stories in this collection have all his trademarks – wit, humor, humanism and that sucker punch towards the end of the story which would leave the reader stunned & elated.
The title story in this collection starts off with a catchy line: I was sitting in a bar one night, talking rather loudly about a person I hated - and a man with a beard sat down beside me, and he said amiably ‘Why don’t you have him killed?’ This bearded person introduces himself as a quack psychiatrist turned ‘murder counselor’ and goes on to propound his theory of how he can get someone murdered without anyone getting the wise of it and how he has been using  this new technique to relieve the anxieties of his paranoid patients. What follows is a bizarre exchange of dialogue between these two individuals which effectively leads to a fitting twist like the old-fashioned O. Henry surprise ending!


  1. Never knew he wrote anything remotely resembling a crime story. I know all of his novels and some of his stories. "Harrison Bergeron" is one of his best stories and has a smidgen of a crime element. I think it's in Welcome to the Monkey House. Vonnegut often gets classified as a science fiction writer, though I tend to think of him as one of those writers who defies categorization.

    1. Probably not many would classify it as a crime story - it is certainly not written as one. It is more to show the human nature aspect of it! But I thought this story could equally fit into the 'Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford' or more aptly into the collection of 'The Gentle Grafter'. But really, the bizarre dialogue between the two is the highlight here. So you can just say that it is my deviant behavior of trying to find a crime in a story! :)