Posted in Short Stories

Kurt Vonnegut: The Powder-Blue Dragon

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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.

5 thoughts on “Kurt Vonnegut: The Powder-Blue Dragon

  1. Hi Dale,

    I think I liked this one a little more than you did. I remember re-reading it last year for my never-completed “Vonnegut Madness” tournament – it lost in the first round, but I do think Kiah’s yearning for new freedom – and respect – is a worthy “universal” theme that is easily relatable. I was disappointed in how the story ended up, though.

    Of the other Vonnegut stories on your 2014 roster, I have fond memories of “Find Me a Dream” and strangely (ironically?) I have little memory of “Mnemonics….” 🙂


    1. Jay, I liked that Kiah could actually buy the car and enjoyed the responses from people he told. It was the ending for me that just didn’t go where I was hoping it would go. I’m looking forward to the other Vonnegut stories on my roster. I was just looking and I still have quite a few stories left in Bagombo. I might do an Ad Hoc week like I did with Mark Twain last year. I’m not in a rush, though to finish the stories. Like we’ve said before, sometimes we don’t want the stories to end. I feel that way about this collection.

  2. That’s a shame! hopefully you’ll draw a better one next week.
    I’ve only ever read his Slaughterhouse 5 novel, so I’m not really familiar with his work in general.

    1. Yeah, Slaughterhouse Five is probably the work he’s most known for. And it’s one of my favorites! Most of his short stories are somewhere between brilliant and enjoyable. So if occasionally one doesn’t grab my attention, it’s OK.

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