Kurt Vonnegut, "The Nice Little People"

A man finds a knife that turns out to be a little spaceship containing a tiny crew.

(from Look at the Birdie)

Once, in a creative writing course back in college, the prof asked each of us to pick a story for a sort of unofficial dream anthology. A burgeoning Kurt Vonnegut completist, I chose “Thomas Edison’s Shaggy Dog.” Fine, said the professor, but it’s not actually a well-written story. Back then I was like whatevs but now, with some time and mileage between the then me and the now, I get what he’s saying. (To quote Craig Finn: “All your favorite books/ They wouldn’t seem so well-written if you were just a little bit more well-read.”) And it applies to this story too, and to a lot of KV’s early sci-fi short pieces. The prose is so spare it borders on artless, and the surprise endings are telegraphed almost from page one. I’m still a a KV completist, so I’ll keep reading — and there’s plenty to enjoy within these pieces of previously unpublished Vonnegutiae — but Sirens of Titans this is not.

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