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.
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.