I don’t read a lot of short stories, but I do really like Vonnegut and am on some sort of poorly planned out mission to read all of his works. Of all the Vonnegut books at the Nelson Library, this is one I hadn’t read and was sure I could finish on time (on time meaning before I left the country).
Something I think many people tend to do is get caught up with trying to identify the moral of a story. Every story has to have a message, a purpose and a lesson they are trying to impart to the reader. And in some cases that is the truth, and in some cases it is more obvious than others. What I decided while reading While Mortals Sleep is that stories don’t have to have a moral. Sometimes they are just funny, sad, or perplexing stories and they exist simply because the author felt like writing it.
There is nothing wrong with writing a story, or reading one for that matter, that serves no other purpose than to entertain us. Stories that teach us things or make us think more critically about things and see familiar things from a different perspective are good, too. But like in all aspects of life, there should be a balance in reading. Happy and sad, funny and dark, practical and just down right silly. They all have a place in the literary canon.
The stories collected in While Mortals Sleep have all the elements you would expect from Vonnegut. Bizarre character names, undertones of satire and social commentary. And in some cases, a feeling of whimsy, in the least whimsical of ways. I do believe I have gone on long enough.