[ Read eBook ] Happy Birthday, Wanda JuneAuthor Kurt Vonnegut Jr. – Schematicwiringdiagram.co

In his first published play, Kurt Vonnegut finds a powerful vehicle for his tragicomical imagination When the great hunter Harold Ryan missing and presumed dead returns from Africa after eight years, his wife is aghast and his son is enchanted Vonnegut s attack on phony heroes and male swagger uses some of the funniest dialogue ever created for the stage


10 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Wanda June

  1. Tony Tony says:

    Second reading.Not his best but quirky enough to be thoroughly enjoyable.God Bless You Mr Vonnegut.So it goes.


  2. Chris Thompson Chris Thompson says:

    Happy Birthday, Wanda June is Kurt Vonnegut s response to the uber macho values of Ernest Hemingway, whose ideas of manliness involved killing animals for sport This didn t just include Hemingway s fondness for bullfighting, whose goal is killing bulls as efficiently and elegantly as possible, but also Hemingway s hunting of exotic animals Vonnegut wonders at the destructiveness of this sort of heroic manliness It s the sort of thing that led to the United States dropping two atomic bombs o Happy Birthday, Wanda June is Kurt Vonnegut s response to the uber macho values of Ernest Hemingway, whose ideas of manliness involved killing animals for sport This didn t just include Hemingway s fondness for bullfighting, whose goal is killing bulls as efficiently and elegantly as possible, but also Hemingway s hunting of exotic animals Vonnegut wonders at the destructiveness of this sort of heroic manliness It s the sort of thing that led to the United States dropping two atomic bombs on Japan Vonnegut inserts his Hemingway caricature into a modern version of Odysseus, who returns home to a different sort of woman than the Greek hero did Whether or not this is fair to Hemingway as a person, Vonnegut has nonetheless managed to write a witty, entertaining play, even if it does grow a little too preachy at the end.Penelope Ryan s husband, Harold Ryan, went on a safari and has been missing for eight years His son, Paul, was four when Harold left, but Paul worships the father he wished he d had Many people, in fact, worship Harold Ryan That s because Harold is a war hero, having killed hundreds of Nazis, some with his bare hands The killing didn t stop with the war, however Harold loved to hunt, but after eight years he had been long assumed dead Penelope finds herself with two suitors chasing after her Herb Shuttle, a vacuum salesman who dreams of being Harold, and Dr Norbert Woodly, who opposes violence of any kind and despises the hunting trophies that still litter the Ryan household Unlike Homer s Penelope, Vonnegut s Penelope encourages both men, alternating between dates with each one Paul hates them both, but he hates it eventhat nobody seems to care it s his father s birthday.But then Harold makes his return, along with his friend, Colonel Looseleaf Harper, who is haunted by his decision to drop the first atomic bomb He just goes along with what others tell him, including Harold Harold believes that when he returns home, everything will return to normal And if his wife is a bit hesitant in her enthusiasm, well that s nothing a trip to the bedroom won t cure In this he is sadly mistaken Even his son is uncertain of what to make of him Harold seems to despise his own son, believing him not to be manly enough He even shoos Paul outside in order to get a chance to be alone with Penelope, but Penelope locks Harold out of the bedroom She s had a college education and she s gotten different ideas of her husband now Heroes are the type of people, she says to him, who hate home and try to stay away as often as possible, but when they are home they make awful messes That s exactly what Harold Ryan does.Wanda June is also a character in the play She s a ghost of a ten year old girl who was struck and killed by an ice cream truck So it goes She s in the play because Shuttle, wanting to appease Paul s anger over people ignoring his father s birthday, buys a birthday cake This one was on sale because the little girl s parents didn t pick it up Wanda June is a ghost in heaven, and heaven is such a great place because people can do anything there She befriends Major Siegfried von Konigswald, a Nazi officer who is also known as the Beast of Yugoslavia The Major was killed by Harold Ryan But he and Wanda June say you shouldn t be mad at people who kill you In fact, it s so great to be up in heaven that people should kill each otheroften This is obviously satire aimed at the likes of Harold Ryan, who believes that being killed in battle is an honor It s not, Penelope counters, because being killed means you no longer exist To the Harold Ryans of the world, dying means going to a heaven where you can play shuffleboard all you want and tornadoes will bounce you around but never hurt you It s a grand place, so nobody should be upset over a little bit of killing.Harold Ryan truly is a piece of work He s the most interesting part of the play because he s such a monster He has a manliness that s tough not to admire, but a personality that s easy to hate He treats others with derision He tells his wife to make breakfast without an ounce of gratitude and toys with the emotions of his son Nobody is good enough for him There s a part of Hemingway s own work that Vonnegut seems to be reflecting in Harold Ryan Hemingway is critical, in his prose, of those who don t fit in with his ideals of manliness, which is hardly anybody Just think of Robert Cohn, from The Sun Also Rises, and the hatred poured on him by the main character Harold Ryan is the behind the scenes manly man, who drives several wives to drink themselves to an early grave and is now struggling to keep his current wife in his good graces Vonnegut s values tend to match our own modern values of gender, where men have a growing role in raising the child and taking care of the home and even, God forbid, cooking and doing laundry Gasp The one problem with the play that I have is its turn into moralizing and explaining at the end There s a verbal showdown between Woodly and Harold where Woodly explains who Harold is and Harold, unbelievingly, sees himself in a new light, as though the conceited man the audience has grown to hate could be so easily swayed Not that I am going to ruin what happens, as it isn t quite so predictable as you think While I do agree with Vonnegut s message, the delivery is too direct His depiction of Wanda June in heaven is effective because of its subtlety, and Vonnegut should have stuck with subtlety rather than pointedly stating his play s overarching message Yet I would still highly recommend this play It has plenty of moments of witty humor and plentymoments of tension filled dialogue Besides, people should read , no matter what it is, because then there would bepeace and less killing Dr Norbert Woodly would love that


  3. Josh Josh says:

    Yeah, Jesus but wars would be a lot better, I think, if guys would say to themselves sometimes, Jesus I m not going to do that to the enemy That s too much My violin is avenged


  4. Dakota Sillyman Dakota Sillyman says:

    I know a lot of people aren t very fond of this play, they wish Vonnegut would ve stuck with novels And who can blame them when his novels are so glorious But personally, I thought Wanda June was brilliant It hilarious, dark, poignant, and supremely hopeful just like all Vonnegut s work I rather enjoyed the fact it was in play format rather than novel or short story It s an interesting experiment The characters feel alive in a slightly different way, and the jokes land harder While Kurt I know a lot of people aren t very fond of this play, they wish Vonnegut would ve stuck with novels And who can blame them when his novels are so glorious But personally, I thought Wanda June was brilliant It hilarious, dark, poignant, and supremely hopeful just like all Vonnegut s work I rather enjoyed the fact it was in play format rather than novel or short story It s an interesting experiment The characters feel alive in a slightly different way, and the jokes land harder While Kurt left plays well alone afterwards I m left wantingof his writing in this format


  5. Cindy Cindy says:

    What an odd, quick read Vonnegut wrote only one play thank goodness and set it as a retelling of Odysseus s return home from war set in the mid 20th century Like the Odyssey, Penelope has several suitors and a son who lamely attempts to fight them off The role of the returning war hero is Penelope s brutish husband, Harold, an older, gruffy, rude man who s been missing for 8 years while diamond hunting A lover of big game, guns and traditional masculinity, he revels in his surprise retu What an odd, quick read Vonnegut wrote only one play thank goodness and set it as a retelling of Odysseus s return home from war set in the mid 20th century Like the Odyssey, Penelope has several suitors and a son who lamely attempts to fight them off The role of the returning war hero is Penelope s brutish husband, Harold, an older, gruffy, rude man who s been missing for 8 years while diamond hunting A lover of big game, guns and traditional masculinity, he revels in his surprise return and emotional control over his family.Frequently the play reads like something from The Theater of the Absurd The stilted dialogue, particularly at the end, lends to this affect In true Vonnegut fashion, Happy Birthday, Wanda June is a commentary on heroism, war, and death So it goes.One funny note I noticed the original Off Broadway cast 1970 71 included Dianne Wiest In Treatment, Law Order, Edward Scissorhands, etc as the female understudy


  6. Tyler Jones Tyler Jones says:

    Funny as hell, and surprisingly relevantthan forty years on It exposes a truth although it does so by over exagerated means that s part of why it s so funny Vonnegut, like many great playwrites, knew to give the villain all the good lines.


  7. Bjorn Bjorn says:

    HAROLD Whoever has the gun, you see, gets to tell everyone else what to do It s the American way.In the comments to Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut writes about how he came back from the war, from POW camp, from watching Dresden burn to the ground, and was told by a relative now that you ve killed, you re a man He wasn t pleased Happy Birthday, Wanda June comes partly from that.As chance would have it, I just rewatched Scenes From a Marraige, and the parallels are curious Two middle aged me HAROLD Whoever has the gun, you see, gets to tell everyone else what to do It s the American way.In the comments to Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut writes about how he came back from the war, from POW camp, from watching Dresden burn to the ground, and was told by a relative now that you ve killed, you re a man He wasn t pleased Happy Birthday, Wanda June comes partly from that.As chance would have it, I just rewatched Scenes From a Marraige, and the parallels are curious Two middle aged men trying to figure out the new masculinity post 2nd wave feminism and hoping that the future won t be as disgustingly macho It s not a comparison that does Vonnegut any favours, and I suppose there s a reason he didn t go into plays full time That said, as Odyssey rewrites go, it s got a certain small scale charm as it tackles machismo and hope in a new generation Yeah, that worked out


  8. J J says:

    Dialogue never was Vonnegut s strong point His brilliance came about in his descriptions of oddities and his simple, one sentence life truths So a play is less than ideal for ol Kurt it s just harder for him to convey what he s best at conveying in this format.That having been said, this is reasonably funny and reasonably interesting and reasonably strange It s just not the greatest play I ve ever read, and not the greatest Vonnegut Plus a copy is a bitch to rustle up.


  9. Joseph Inzirillo Joseph Inzirillo says:

    The last time I read a play that made me laugh at the end and say wow, it was Beckett s Waiting for Godot Well played Mr Vonnegut, well played


  10. Benjyklostermann Benjyklostermann says:

    Highly enjoyable I don t read many plays, but if this is an indication of the fun and creative nature that modern playwrights can bring, I am interested to check outOnly my second Vonnegut other was Slaughterhouse , but his very inventive and witty bouts of dialogue and sarcastic double meanings are welcome respite from the overly serious and self involved reading I typically pursue.