I picked up this 475 page book from the Boston Public Library explicitly to read Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron”. I quickly found out that this story was only 7 pages long. I’m sure I could have found a pdf version or an ebook version somewhere online instead of carrying home a 475 page book only to read a 7 page story. Oh well.
Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron reminded me a lot of the movie “Idiocracy”. The difference was that in Idiocracy the human race had de-evolved whereas in Vonnegut’s story (year 2081), there was a government officer entitled, “United States Handicapper General” who was responsible for making everyone equal in every conceivable way. People were given masks that were inversely proportional to their good or bad looks. Those that were more athletic were given sacks of birdshot to wear around their necks. The more athletic you were, the heavier your sack of birdshot was. People with good sight were given glasses to blur their vision and people with bad sight were given glasses to improve their vision. The list went on, basically everyone was some level of mediocre talent, intelligence, and attractiveness, finally reaching a state of human equality (or something).
About the Author Kurt Vonnegut:
Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) is one of the most beloved American writers of the twentieth century. Vonnegut’s audience increased steadily since his first five pieces in the 1950s and grew from there. His 1968 novel Slaughterhouse-Five has become a canonic war novel with Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 to form the truest and darkest of what came from World War II.Vonnegut began his career as a science fiction writer, and his early novels–Player Piano and The Sirens of Titan–were categorized as such even as they appealed to an audience far beyond the reach of the category. In the 1960s, Vonnegut became closely associated with the Baby Boomer generation, a writer on that side, so to speak.
Now that Vonnegut’s work has been studied as a large body of work, it has been more deeply understood and unified. There is a consistency to his satirical insight, humor and anger which makes his work so synergistic. It seems clear that the more of Vonnegut’s work you read, the more it resonates and the more you wish to read. Scholars believe that Vonnegut’s reputation (like Mark Twain’s) will grow steadily through the decades as his work continues to increase in relevance and new connections are formed, new insights made. (Courtesy of Amazon.com)
Check out some of the other books I’ve read on Shelfari.com: