Slaughterhouse-Five

Thoughts shfbykv Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, RosettaBooks 2010 (orig 1969), 285 pages

For the What’s in a Name 7 Challenge.
Number in Letters category
First book of six.

A reread. First experienced in the early 80s.

FIRST Sentence:  “This all happened, more or less.”

What’s it ABOUT: This is a book about one guy’s experience in World War II, specifically about being an American POW, witnessing the bombing of Dresden, living a normal life after the war and time travel. Tell me again, what is a normal life?

“And so it goes.”

What’s GOOD: Vonnegut’s “la di da” tone of ambivalence towards everything, tragic and not, and yet still being able to call attention to the true horrors of war. He states things that happen with little added emotional emphasis. He is sympathetic but not sentimental.

It is comic in many many places. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this non-linear, meta-fictional, historically educational (accuracy is debatable), crazy story full of fascinating characters. This book is listed 18th on the 100 best English-language books of the 20th century (Modern Library, 1998).  It has been often criticized and banned from schools and people have gone so far as to claim the time-travel elements ‘don’t work’. (See the Wikipedia page, Criticism section.) Whatever – how do they know if time travel works?! I enjoyed it very much. I love time travel books.

RATING:  Five slices of pie. Grape and Peanut Butter Pie.  photo-78

I adored and devoured all of Vonnegut’s book when in High School. I don’t remember why so I wanted to revisit a few. I *think*, maybe?, that Cat’s Cradle was my favorite. I wish I had kept a book blog then. I can’t even find much mention of the books I read in any of my journals.

Are you a Vonnegut fan? Have you seen the movie of this book?

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15 thoughts on “Slaughterhouse-Five

  1. trish422

    I am teaching this (again) in my Intro to Lit class; it is always met with mixed reviews by the students, but I get a kick out of the ones who focus so intently on the aliens and time travel and how that’s a “bunch of hooey” or “completely not like necessary” (and yes those are actual quotes – from student papers no less – from past lit students). It takes them awhile to get it. Those that do get it, love it.

  2. Oh dear, I am very much not a Vonnegut fan. I tried reading Slaughterhouse Five as a point of bonding with my sister’s fiance when they were first dating, and I just hated it. :(:(:( Maybe I should try again with a different Vonnegut book!

  3. I’ve not read this one. I typically never reach for war books on my own. A rare exception was A Separate Peace which I adore to death, even to this day. I do want to read this one at some point in my life. It’s on my reading bucket list.

    1. “Because it seemed clear that wars were not made by generations and their special stupidities, but that wars were made instead by something ignorant in the human heart.” – from A Separate Peace. Funny, I don’t think of that book as being a war book but when I read my review, I get it, I remember it now. Another book to add to my “made me cry” list.
      (This one (Slaughterhouse5) didn’t make me cry…)

  4. lisaalmedasumner

    I loved Vonnegut in high school. I loved him so much that I read every book he published, and then didn’t read him again. There may come a time when I will pick up one of his books again. I like his kind of sardonic humor. I usually find that Slaughterhouse Five is a good book to recommend to a certain kind of student, and then they will go on to read more Vonnegut books. If you like him, you really like him.

  5. I’m a Vonnegut fan, particularly because he’s an Indiana boy. I haven’t seen the movie, but I’ve read much of his other work. I think A Man Without a Country and Cat’s Cradle are my favorites. He has a very specific sense of dark humor that people tend to either love or hate.

  6. Thiusi s the only Vonnegut I’ve read and it was for a college class. I didn’t like it or any of the other books we read (Portnoy’s Complaint, Catch-22…) and I wonder if it was just a different kind of book than I was used to. I have Cat’s Cradle on my shelf, just to give Vonnegut another chance to win me over 🙂

  7. Yes I am a Vonnegut fan. Love him. I started with Slaughterhouse Five and branched out from there. The most recent Vonnegut I read was a book of short stories that remained unpublished during his lifetime. They were rather angry stories, based on his experience with the bombing of Dresden in WWII, I think. And, yet, they were every bit as witty as the other books I’ve read. He was a prisoner of war and had to remove bodies from the rubble — and he came close to being hit, himself, several times.

  8. I’ve not read this (and didn’t actually know much about it until a short while ago) but I know it’s one I must read. I like time travel books so I’d be interested in seeing how that’s included. I agree, it’s time travel, we don’t know if/how it would work. Well done on What’s In A Name 🙂

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