Celebrating Banned Book Week with Kurt Vonnegut: “Lovers Anonymous”

“Sheila Hinckley is now a spare whitewall tire on the Thunderbird of my dreams.”

In Kurt Vonnegut’s short story collection Welcome to the Monkey House, several of the stories feature an unnamed narrator who is a storm window salesman for famous people. They include some of my favorite Vonnegut comedy.  In his story “Lovers Anonymous”, a storm window salesman plays the part of narrator again; however, it’s a more personal story, no famous people show up, but the comedy is just as good.

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While young, the narrator and some of his friends all have a crush on Sheila Hinckley, the smartest girl in school. They are all certain she will become a world renown scientist and never marry any of them.  When she marries Herb White, the rest of the group infomally form Lovers Anonymous (LA). Fifteen years later, LA is still together even though they are all married. They still talk about Sheila Hinckley.

This is another story in which one can see a more liberating view of women starting to appear in Vonnegut’s writing. Herb becomes consumed with the fact that he has kept Sheila from being all that she can be, while Lovers Anonymous plays a part in helping him through this “realization”.

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