May Classic- Slaughterhouse Five

Posted May 18, 2011 by Kara in Uncategorized / 12 Comments

Slaughterhouse-FiveSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Summary:

Kurt Vonnegut’s absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut’s) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.

Don’t let the ease of reading fool you–Vonnegut’s isn’t a conventional, or simple, novel. He writes, “There are almost no characters in this story, and almost no dramatic confrontations, because most of the people in it are so sick, and so much the listless playthings of enormous forces. One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters…” Slaughterhouse-Five (taken from the name of the building where the POWs were held) is not only Vonnegut’s most powerful book, it is as important as any written since 1945. Like Catch- 22, it fashions the author’s experiences in the Second World War into an eloquent and deeply funny plea against butchery in the service of authority. Slaughterhouse-Five boasts the same imagination, humanity, and gleeful appreciation of the absurd found in Vonnegut’s other works, but the book’s basis in rock-hard, tragic fact gives it a unique poignancy–and humor.

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I still have no idea what I just read. This is the classic that was chosen for me to read for the month of May. Sometimes classics and me just don’t mesh. I don’t know how to explain it. I’ll try to explain my interpretation of this book the best that I can, but I’m probably going to end up sounding stupid. Let’s put it this way. If I had had to read this in college, and the professor asked us questions about it, my hand would so NOT be getting raised.

Notice I gave it two stars. I had a hard time deciding between 2 and 3 stars. I was conflicted because I enjoyed some parts of the story. I enjoyed the war scenes and the interpretation of World War 2 that was presented. I did not care for the Trafalmadore sections. It just didn’t make sense to me and all the jumping around was seriously confusing.

I did enjoy Vonnegut’s bluntness and way with words. As depressing as the book was, I also laughed a few times. I know most people love the fact that he writes, “So it goes” on practically every page. I didn’t care for it. I found it annoying and after about ten times I began rolling my eyes.

I just definitely think this is a book that men will enjoy more than women. I am wondering just who voted for this book. I have my ideas. I can appreciate it for the good writing and the fact that I read the entire thing, because there are some classics I couldn’t even get through ::cough Dracula cough::.

There were some parts of the book that were fun. I enjoyed Billy Pilgrim’s voice and it was nice being in the mind of an unusual character for once. But truthfully, the book was just okay for me.

I realize I am probably committing sacrilege by posting this review and rating, but I’m not so much as reviewing this classic as I am explaining how I felt about it. Maybe I will have better luck with the next one.

View all my reviews

You can buy Slaughterhouse Five from Amazon here: Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel
Please forgive me.

12 responses to “May Classic- Slaughterhouse Five

  1. Go away. You’ve been blocked. Stop cyber-bullying people. Aren’t you trying to gain respect as an author? Not the way to go about it my friend. Take your medication. I think you skipped a dose.

  2. everyone has their opinion on classics. Sorry you didn’t enjoy it. I honestly think that having spark notes, reading it chapter by chapter and joining a discussion enhances the reading, and it might help when you read you next classic. There’s so many things that are hidden and not what they appear to be. 🙂

  3. Thanks. I thought about that, but by that point I was already more than halfway through it. Will definitely keep it in mind for next month depending what is chosen. I know quite a few people that didn’t like it though. ::shrugs::

  4. Rogue Mutt, you’re not winning any brownie points by trolling other people blogs and twitter accounts trying to act like the all wise and influential Buddha of book reviewing. Book reviewers are here to talk books and give honest reviews and make friends. You’re obviously not here to make friends. So honestly, I think you should kiss your own ass (I know you’ve tried) and go bore someone else with your oh-so-smart antics. So to quote the famous Rogue Mutt, nuff said bye-bye.

  5. Great review. I don’t think books deserve certain rating just because they are classics, I’m thankful that reviewers like you, use their own judgement and give a fair critique. As readers we come to rely on that judgement and if you use it just to appease the masses, it doesn’t help your true followers. So I commend you and thank you. The book does sound confusing and I’m not a big fan of classics either, but I try to read them to give me some diversity and variation.

    Thanks for the review.

  6. “So it goes” is written in the book everytime someone dies, and no other times. That’s a key point of the book.

    The book wanders around because Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time; it helps explain Billy’s reaction to almost everything — a reaction that is almost always indifferent — because he knows that none of this is going to last.

    With that said, books that have to be explained may not be great books, but it sounds to me like you didn’t give much of a chance to the book. Reviewing books that are outside of your genre of appreciation isn’t necessarily the fairest thing to do, as you’re unlikely to like them or put the work into caring about them. (I don’t know if this is your genre or not.)

    You also have to remember that the book was science fiction, and a big part of the Tralfamadorian experience was juxtposing how Billy’s life there related to his life in earlier times.

    You may want to give other Vonnegut books a try; they’re all depressing, but some are moreso and some less so. I suggest “Galapagos,” which was brilliantly sad, and “Cat’s Cradle.”

  7. Thank you for the comment Briane and I appreciate what you have to say, but I think I’ll pass. I did not hate on the book, I just stated that it simply wasn’t for me and it wasn’t.

    I don’t have anything against depressing books, other than that I have to be in the right frame of mind to read them.

    I realize Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time, I think any idiot with half a brain could figure that out, I also know that the book was/is science fiction. “So it goes” is written everytime someone dies. Interesting, but I still found it annoying.

    The book was simply not for me. There have been plenty of books that have been written that are not for me, you, or anybody else. But we are all entitled to our opinion. Go to Goodreads. Type in any classic and you will see numerous negative reviews. It’s life. I don’t have a specific genre that I favor. I read all sorts of books. I love to read. I’m trying to get through the classics before I kick the bucket. I have a right to my opinion and so do you. I do know however, that Rogue Mutt sent you over here. And I also am aware of his rant on me and how completely delusional and crazy he is. He attacks people all over the internet and some of my other friends have experienced this as well.

    Perhaps instead of attacking others, he should look in a mirror, figure out why he’s unhappy and feels the need to incessantly attack people on the internet, see a therapist, and fix it. Peace out.

  8. Oh and also, I have not completely written Vonnegut off. I may read more of his fiction. I am just moving on to something else for the month of June and this was a fun little feature I wanted to do. I have not read a lot of the classics and I figured it would be interesting for my readers to see them commented on through a pair of fresh eyes, since most of them read them in school and college.

  9. I’m a huge Vonnegut fan, but this book didn’t do much for me either. My personal fave was The Sirens of Titan. Breakfast of Champions was another good one (wide open beavers! Hahahaha!) Vonnegut is definitely not for everyone, and I can see why you said it’s geared more toward men.

  10. You let people vote what you read next? Don’t think I could do that. All the crap I’d end reading. 😀

    That said, I thought Slaughterhouse Five was… ok. But as you, I and classics rarely mesh. This does bring the interesting point though, that how people rate books. I have quite the difficulties to down rate a book simply because I didn’t like it, because it can still be well written. But then again, if you don’t like the book, the book has failed you, and it just comes down to matter of opinion. Which means professional reviewers don’t mean a rat’s ass either. You just have to find people with similar taste on books you got, and read those reviews to possibly find new titles.

    Anyway, don’t mind the haters. 🙂 Have a muffin instead. *tosses*

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