“And how should we behave during this Apocalypse? We should be unusually kind to one another, certainly. But we should also stop being so serious. Jokes help a lot. And get a dog, if you don’t already have one.”
Armageddon in Retrospect is a collection of short stories about a/the war. Many of them were situated to Dresden, and it is no wonder as Kurt Vonnegut was a prisoner of war there and survived the bombing of the city. Often enough, while reading, I kept wondering was some of the stories and characters true. They felt real and had that dark-humorous side of war attached to them the way only someone who has seen it can write. Especially one stuck with me. It was about a German prison guard and story of American soldiers/prisoners talking about food. The element of tragicomedy was well played in “Guns Before Butter”, and it had that well-known Vonnegut’s melancholic style which made the story humane and touching while made me laugh and think the horrors of war and what it was like to be a prisoner and having no food to eat and working hours upon hours in a day in sheer exhaustion. The short story ends beautifully, changing the perspective to the jailer, Kleinhans. Only someone with Vonnegut’s soul can see the side of his own jailer. That is what makes Vonnegut one of my favorite authors. He always sees both sides of any given argument. He knows the world isn’t that black and white.
What makes the book special is his son’s recount of his father and his thoughts patterns at the opening. It was wonderful to read about their relationship, making Vonnegut more real as a person and not just some magical unicorn with a wonderful talent to tell moving stories. I have to say there were weaker ones in the mix, but I think that is only logical as some of them were from when he was starting out. But altogether, if you love Vonnegut, you won’t be disappointed. For example, “Guns Before Butter” was something I will never forget.