Slaughterhouse Five

Slaughterhouse Five

By Kurt Vonnegut

I’m not completely convinced I can give this book a completely unbiased review as anyone who knows me knows that I am in love with this book (and pretty much anything by Vonnegut- to the point where I have a quote from this book tattooed on my wrist) but I will try.

Vonnegut’s style is not for everyone. It is simultaneously absurd and dryly realistic, it is comical but serious, it really isn’t easy to pigeon-hold Vonnegut’s writing as being one thing in particular. Some people read his stuff and immediately love it, others can hardly get through a couple pages.

Slaughterhouse Five is one of Vonnegut’s most famous books and, I believe, it is a great place to either declare yourself a fan or not. It is the fictitious/biographical account of Vonnegut’s own experience as a WWII soldier held prisoner in Dresden, Germany as it was destroyed and the aftermath of life that followed- not just immediately after but for Billy Pilgrim’s (the protagonist) lifetime. This sounds simple enough- but it is just the beginning.

What makes this novel complicated and completely unique is the idea of time tavel and aliens. Throughout the story, Billy jumps in and out of time, away from different traumatizing experiences, and often to the passive and distant Tralfamadore (an alien planet) where he, along with a Hollywood starlet, are on display in a zoo. This tieme-jumping could be interpreted in a billion ways- but it seems most obviously a mental collapse, where Billy simply cannot handle such a demanding reality and longs for the passive and faraway dream that he borrowed from a science fiction book. Perhaps I should also clarify that I wrote my master’s thesis on Vonnegut and discussed this novel at length.

The truth of the matter is that some people love this book and others hate it. I’ve never met anyone in the middle.

This book was recommended to me at a time when I had lost interest in reading or writing. Vonnegut’s sarcasm, creativity, and bravery in not giving a shit about the conventions of normal popular fiction inspired me. I devoured everything he has ever written and feel that he helped me find my own voice as a creative writer (not that anyone really reads it to tell me if it sucks or not). I am a Vonnegut fan to my bones.

Give it a shot and keep an open mind, you might be really surprised with what you find or how you change!

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