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One of my most enjoyable reading experiences since I’ve been blogging has been slowly reading through the short stories in Kurt Vonnegut’s collection Bagombo Snuff Box. I’ve also read his collection Welcome to the Monkey House. Vonnegut is at his best when he combines social commentary with his biting wit. Some of the stories from Bagombo that fall into this category are “2BR02B” and “The Package”. I have also been pleasantly surprised by some of his stories that may not be strong on social commentary but somehow are just brilliantly amusing such as “Ambitious Sophomore” where I first encountered Vonnegut’s recurring and very likeable Lincoln High band leader, George Helmholtz.
Unfortunately, his story “The Powder-Blue Dragon” just didn’t fall into any of the above categories. I think part of my problem with it comes from the plot line that just didn’t go where I thought it would or where I thought it should. Kiah Higgins, a young kid, works a number of odd jobs and manages to save up enough to buy an expensive sports car – the powder-blue dragon mentioned in the title. Many of the people he encounters after his vehicle purchase are quite surprised that he was able to buy the car. This part of the premise I thought was great. The surprise and bewilderment from people who are shocked that a kid could work enough to buy an expensive car could have made for a ton of laughs. It also would have been fun to have put myself in the place of the kid (just a reminder, this is fiction).
Once Kiah buys the car; however, none of what I thought would happen does. It was a bigger disappointment than I was expecting. But I will continue with the stories in Bagombo as this is the first disappointment of this sort that I’ve encountered. Vonnegut’s still brilliant in my book.