Posted in Short Stories

Kurt Vonnegut: Mnemonics

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This is Week 18 of my Deal Me In 2014 Project and this post will be short and sweet – just like Kurt Vonnegut’s short story “Mnemonics”.  My Deal Me In 2014 list can be seen here.  DMI is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.

In the story, Alfred Moorehead utilizes a unique system in which he remembers his boss’s list of things to do by associating each item with a female movie star.  As Vonnegut wrote this sometime around 1950 (I’m taking a stab at the year, here), Moorehead’s “leading ladies” are the likes of Rita Hayworth, Jane Russell, Ava Gardner, and Lana Turner.  His system works beautifully until he tries it on a list that is unusually long.  His boss, unusually named Ralph L. Thriller, prefers that he use a pencil; however, Alfred prefers his leading ladies which threaten to vanish inside his mind before the list is completed.

When reading Vonnegut’s short stories, I’m constantly surprised at how light, fun and innocent many of them can be.  The word that keeps popping into my mind to describe “Mnemonics” is “cute”.  For some reason that sounds condescending and derogatory to a Vonnegut story, but I’ve come to appreciate all aspects of his work – the satirical, the sarcastic, the controversial, the banned and the cute.

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