cover image Bagombo Snuff Box

Bagombo Snuff Box

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.. Highbridge Company, $26.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-56511-329-9

In an amiable and lengthy introduction read by the author, Vonnegut sounds downright aged, undeniably wise and a bit wistful, conjuring up the time of his early writing career when he wrote these previously uncollected short stories for magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post and Argosy. Sparks of his youthful, mischievous humor soon break through, as he describes his time working first as a PR man for General Electric, then as a journeyman magazine writer. ""Thanasphere,"" a SF outing about an astronaut who hears the voices of dead spirits in space, mocks Cold War-era scientists who were ""amazed at nothing."" Likewise, ""To Be or Not to Be,"" with its future-view of enforced population control, shows Utopian ideals gone awry. Read in sensitive tones by Marshall (an actor who has narrated parts for animated series on TV), the stories' sly moods seem to build on their own. Based on the 1999 Putnam hardcover. (Sept.)