Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Slaughterhouse Five- Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-Five Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I somehow managed to avoid reading any Vonnegut until now, and I had heard that you either love him, or hate him. I definitely fall into the former category. Now, I will admit that I was potentially swayed by the fact that my writing group said my own writing was like a nice, sweet Vonnegut, but that's beside the point.

Slaughterhouse Five is the portrait of Billy Pilgrim, an optometrist who has witnessed the firebombing of Dresden in WWII and been taken as a zoo subject by the alien planet Tralfmador. In the book Billy has become "unstuck in time" and bounces from one point in his life to another. We follow him from being captured in Germany, to his mental breakdown senior year of optometrist school, to his wedding anniversary and off to Tralfmador where he is on display at the zoo.

The novel is an interesting portrayal of war, life, and time. I was intrigued by the Tralfmadorians view of time. All moments are in existence at once. They see the whole span of time all at once. This is what enabled Billy to move between these moments with ease. Quite interesting. Billy was also a unique character. He isn't quite the lovable hero that you want him to be. He's sort of bumbling, definitely a coward and not entirely likable. However, he is interesting, and probably more real than most characters.

Overall, I really liked this book, almost more for the structure than anything else. It was really unique, gave an interesting perspective and (I thought) a fair treatment of WWII. Vonnegut makes you look at some of life's simple things with a different eye. It also didn't feel super hardcore sci-fi, which was nice. I found it to be a quick read and it was definitely worth it. It's a classic for a reason.

View all my reviews.

2 comments:

Cheryl said...

I love this book!!

One of the great things about it is that you have no idea if poor Billy is delusional or not. I mean, come on--unstuck in time? On display at an alien zoo? It's quite hard to believe.

Either way, the story is engrossing. The style is memorable. Pure genius.

Jolie said...

Oh, I love this book! I think it accomplishes what it sets out to do, which is implied in that prologue/first chapter written in the fictional novelist's point of view: to show war as the gooey moral mess it is, with no real moral high ground, rather than the glorious adventure that is often portrayed in fiction.