Welcome To The Monkey House is a collection of short stories by American master science-fiction writer Kurt Vonnegut. They're not all sci-fi though, Vonnegut is one of the few authors from that genre who can elevate the form, writing true literature. You know, the kind of stuff that gets taught in school (when you can find an English teacher progressive enough). His best known novel is Slaughterhouse-Five, a hugely moving allegorical masterpiece about an American chap who is so horrified after witnessing the Allied bombings of Dresden in the Second World War, he literally becomes unstuck in time and wanders around the 4th dimension.
This sums up Vonnegut's life-long approach. He witnessed those bombings himself: he is possessed by horror of man's capacity for darkness, yet somehow he always writes lightly. He's not grand. So his novels or short stories are always readable and genuinely enthralling.
The best moments in Welcome To The Monkey House are the tiny ones, even within enormous deftly-painted future-worlds. In highlight story 'Harrison Bergeron', equality is forced on people by a system of handicaps, so the brainy get piercing noises in their heads and the physically strong get weighed down or bashed up. But what you'll remember is a Mother's overpowering love for her wayward son - cutting through her own circumstances and ignorance. It reminded me of China's crushing of Tibet, brought into sharp focus by individual tales of broken families. Throughout the collection - and throughout Vonnegut's writing - these are the tiny points which give truth to the whole.
Another of his novels - I think it's Hocus Pocus - has lots of tiny stickfigure men inside the front cover and lots of tiny stickfigure girls inside the back cover, which represent the hero's life of killings and fuckings. The book is one big mathematical equation which solves the mystery in the story. It's both hilarious and shocking, when you finally get what he's going on about.
Ultimately, despite recurring warnings about modern lifestyle and over-population - all of which seem more relevent now than when Vonnegut wrote the stories in the Seventies - Welcome To The Monkey House wins because of its enormous heart. Vonnegut needs to be heard - or read - today, with the world run by monstrously stupid and self-interested figures. And if it takes the bloody Dandy Warhols to put the book out there again, so be it.