Look, I get that collections like this of unpublished works are meant to be a fan-service of sorts, as when an author dies it’s all his fans have left to hope for. More often than not, though, the end result is misguided at best. There’s a distinct reason the author tucked these away where he likely hoped no one would ever find them. This, and the other posthumous collections of Vonnegut’s unpublished work, are a testament to that.
As is his son’s introduction, given it was arguably the highlight of the entire collection. Granted, there’s a curio or two that is worth reading simply for what it is, such as a letter he wrote to his family about his experiences as a POW, but that’s where there appeal begins and ends. They’re compelling on the basis of novelty alone.
Yet much of the book doesn’t even have that going for it. For instance, the title story feels like quintessential Vonnegut in concept, with a scientist using an electrical field to hold the Devil hostage, but not in execution. Like the rest of the collection, his trademark humor is conspicuously absent.
It, like the collection as a whole, is a novelty and nothing more. More Vonnegut for his writing-starved fans. Go into it with that thought process and maybe it’ll surprise you. Otherwise, don’t expect that great a deal.
Travis Smith’s blog, containing this review, as well as others, photography, and more, can be found here.