Celebrating Banned Book Week with Kurt Vonnegut: “Unpaid Consultant”

I didn’t realize Kurt Vonnegut put financial advisors into so many of his stories until these stories I’ve been reading this week. “Unpaid Consultant”, I admit, is a boring title.  The story itself has some wackiness and charm, though. It sounds very familiar in form to “Custom-Made Bride”.  The narrator starts by telling the reader that so many of his old flames come to him for financial advice and then continues by telling about a specific old flame.

Celeste Divine (another great Vonnegut name) is in need of some money-handling assistance as her career as a television star has taken off.  When the narrator visits her at her house, she introduces him to her husband, Harry.  Harry is laying on the floor thinking about ketchup.  He is an unpaid consultant for the ketchup industry and is hilariously oblivious to the excitement of his wife’s fame. It’s all about ketchup:

Harry looked at me. “What do you call it? Catchup? Ketchup? Catsup?”

I always enjoy the way Vonnegut’s stories make the reader think “He’s got a point” or “I never thought of that”. In the case of this story, Vonnegut appears to say “there has to be somebody out there thinking about ketchup”.

Yeah. He’s got a point.

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