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Happy Birthday, Wanda June by Kurt Vonnegut

Author: Kurt Vonnegut</a>
Title: Happy Birthday, Wanda June
Hardcover ISBN: 0440504848
Re-issued in 1992 Bantam Double Day
Rating: 3.5 / 5.0




Readers of Vonnegut will not be surprised to find similar sayings, quotes, and themes spewing forth from the Characters of Happy Birthday, Wanda June. Vonnegut wrote a few plays throughout his literary career. This title was the only play published and had a fairly long performance run with a theatre outfit. The play is introduced by a very self depreciating Vonnegut who notes that the actors salvaged the play from being nothing but a disaster of the author's own creation. Pictures from the play and of the author behind the scene help bring the scenes to life; however, the play reads surprising smoothly and quickly very much like Vonnegut's better known literary works.

Vonnegut yet again tackles the big issues surrounding humanity, mainly man's obsession with violence and war and it's effects on the world and civilization itself. Essentially, war time man is put up against peace time man through characterization and the results are distinctly Vonnegut with exception of a rare idealized ending. The author notes in the introduction that the ending was changed and altered endlessly throughout the plays run and knowing Vonnegut's general views, one can understand why. The ending of the play essentially could sum up how Vonnegut feels about man kind and it's possible future and could likely change on a daily basis given his disposition. One simply action altered in a number of ways says so many different things depending upon how it happens.

But that is the nature of Vonnegut's work, to never have much of a defining conclusion or point other than humanity has so much potential for so much good, yet still does and may always do so so much evil. And at the end of the day, does it all really mean much any ways as everything is what it is. And so it goes...

The play can be read in one sitting and is Vonnegut's shortest published work with exception of God Bless You Dr. Kevorkien. I was surprised by it's briefness and page turning aspects, but I wanted so much more from the story. I wanted more Vonnegut-isms and observations, and less stuff I have read in other works of Vonnegut.
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