FIRST PRINTING OF VONNEGUT’S FIRST PUBLISHED STORY.
In 1949, desperate to escape his job as publicity copy writer for General Electric, Vonnegut “brought his typewriter home at night and over weekends to begin drafting something else: short stories... Off his stories went to the best-paying markets, including Collier’s and the Saturday Evening Post. Back they came, not with outright rejections like his mother’s but with words from a sympathetic editor, Knox Burger, at the the first journal who wondered if the writer were the same Kurt Vonnegut he had known as a fellow college journalist. Get an agent, Burger advised, one who could tell him how to make these stories more sellable. Vonnegut did, and the rest is history. The first to be published, ‘Report on the Barnhouse Effect,’ appeared in Collier’s for 11 February 1950” (Klinkowitz, The Vonnegut Effect).
Vonnegut, ecstatic after the acceptance of his story, resolved to make a living as a fiction writer, writing to his father: “I’m on my way. I’ve deposited my first check in a savings account and, if I sell more, will continue to do so until I have the equivalent of one’s year’s pay at GE.... I will then quit this goddamn nightmare job, and never take another one so long as I live, so help me God... I’m happier than I’ve been for a good many years.” Vonnegut would later say that the acceptance of his first story “looms like Stonehenge beside my own little footpath from birth to death” (ibid).
“The Barnhouse Effect”, a science-fiction commentary on the nuclear arms race, was published in book form in the 1952 science fiction anthology Tomorrow, the Stars (edited by Robert Heinlein) and as part of Vonnegut’s 1968 collection of stories, Welcome to the Monkey House.
Illustrated by Glen Fleischman. IN: Collier’s, Vol 125, No. 6. Springfield, Ohio: Crowell-Collier Publishing Company, February 11, 1950. Large (approx. 10.5x14 inches) quarto, original pictorial wrappers; custom box by book artist Sjoerd Hofstra. Only the most trivial wear. A fine copy - rare in such good condition.
Price: $1,600 .