★ ★ ★
I was lucky enough to win a copy of We Are What We Pretend to Be: The First and Last Works by Kurt Vonnegut from a giveaway at Book Riot. It is actually 2 books in 1: his first novella Basic Training + his final novel If God Were Alive Today + an intro by the author's daughter, Nanette Vonnegut. Basic Training was never actually published, and Vonnegut didn't get a chance to finish If God Were Alive Today before he passed away in 2007.
We Are What We Pretend to Be by Kurt Vonnegut | Vanguard Press | October 2012 | Hardcover $19.99
I think I enjoyed Nanette's introduction more than either of the actual stories, which is unfortunate because I count Vonnegut as one of my favorite authors. Neither of the stories were actually bad, but neither of them were anywhere near the quality of his other works -- and that isn't surprising. I caught glimpses of the author's budding genius in Basic Training, but it is definitely in need of some editing (which I suspect the publisher was reluctant to do, and I can't really lay blame for that). And If God Were Alive Today has the makings of something truly profound, but I found it very, very obvious that it was unfinished (and, again, in need of more refined editing, but then it would be, being unfinished and all).
Overall, I'm glad I got a chance to read it and I wouldn't be embarrassed to lend it out, but I wouldn't recommend this to Vonnegut virgins as an introduction to his works.
P.S. You can read a pretty cool interview with Nanette at The Rumpus (via Beyond the Margins).
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Literary Trust. We Are What We Pretend to Be: The First and Last Works. New York: Vanguard Press, 2012. Print.
Giveaway from Book Riot
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