Slaughterhouse-five

Slaughterhouse-five

eBook - 2010
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Adapted for a magnificent George Roy Hill film three years later (perhaps the only film adaptation of a masterpiece which exceeds its source), Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) is the now famous parable of Billy Pilgrim, a World War II veteran and POW, who has in the later stage of his life become "unstuck in time" and who experiences at will (or unwillingly) all known events of his chronology out of order and sometimes simultaneously. Traumatized by the bombing of Dresden at the time he had been imprisoned, Pilgrim drifts through all events and history, sometimes deeply implicated, sometimes a witness. He is surrounded by Vonnegut's usual large cast of continuing characters (notably here the hack science fiction writer Kilgore Trout and the alien Tralmafadorians who oversee his life and remind him constantly that there is no causation, no order, no motive to existence). The "unstuck" nature of Pilgrim's experience may constitute an early novelistic use of what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; then again, Pilgrim's aliens may be as "real" as Dresden is real to him. Struggling to find some purpose, order or meaning to his existence and humanity's, Pilgrim meets the beauteous and mysterious Montana Wildhack (certainly the author's best character name), has a child with her and drifts on some supernal plane, finally, in which Kilgore Trout, the Tralmafadorians, Montana Wildhack and the ruins of Dresden do not merge but rather disperse through all planes of existence. Slaughterhouse-Five was hugely successful, brought Vonnegut an enormous audience, was a finalist for the National Book Award and a bestseller and remains four decades later as timeless and shattering a war fiction as Catch-22, with which it stands as the two signal novels of their riotous and furious decade.
Publisher: Made available through hoopla, 2010.
[United States] : RosettaBooks, 2010.
Characteristics: data file
1 online resource
Additional Contributors: hoopla digital

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Brooke_Nicole
May 09, 2017

A tale of impossibilities, outrageous ironies, and tragic comedies of angst. I enjoyed the dark version of existentialism as a theme. There is also a dark take on humanity that provokes a sad sort of laughter (which is the only type of humor in this book): a serious message is followed by a meaningless, mundane observation (reminds me of the movie Ordinary People, which I recommend). Further, after a death, Vonnegut recognizes the deceased with the anticlimactic "And so it goes." Despite the good of the novel, I feel that either some of the messages of the novel were not effectively conveyed or they simply weren't there at all: there were several repeated phrases that had no meaning to me, as did the majority of the novel. If you like this book, I would recommend 1984 by George Orwell.

Vonnegut uses that neat trick so often employed by David Letterman; he repeats the same phrase over and over in different contexts until you find it uncontrollably funny. Aside from his insightful wit, he also manages to convey the absurdity of human conflict. So it goes.

AL_JEREMIAH Aug 09, 2016

Not a typical sci-fi novel at all, but more of a literary-historical-memoir with sci-fi used as a rhetorical tool to enhance the main message/narrative. The story is partially autobiographical, of Vonnegut’s experience as a POW in WW2 in the German town of Dresden, and of the fire-bombing of this city by the Allies. The novel follows Billy Pilgrim as he experiences this same incident, and goes on to tell of his life afterwards, including his abduction by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore, and his time on their world. The narrative moves back and forth in time, now that Billy has ability to time-travel to any moment of his life, and makes for very interesting reading. Written in Vonnegut’s very clever, laid back style, extremely sharp and sardonic, and full of humor. A very pleasurable and profound reading experience, dealing with very un-pleasurable topics. A modern classic.

t
tlovold
Mar 03, 2016

The beginning of the movie with Billy stumbling through the snow and music is unforgettable. It is my favorite part of the movie. The images stuck with me as I read the book. Great book and the movie was just as good, which is unusual. Only other movie that I enjoyed as much as the book was John Steinbeck's "East of Eden" with James Dean.

v
VRMurphy
Feb 22, 2016

Hmmm. I loved Vonnegut's voice when I was a teenager and young adult, and thought I'd revisit that by starting to reread his books. His writing is still powerful and deceptively simple, and he plays with language like almost no other American writer. However, if I was reading this for the first time, I might not be moved to seek out more. His voice comes across to me now as a bit jaded and cynical, in the "cool kid" way. So it goes, indeed.

m
markn796
Jul 22, 2015

Classifying this as a great literary telling of an anti-war story is a bit deceiving. A poorly written account of a man's life, it does focus on absurdity. Confusing is an understatement; I would love some explanation of why aliens were involved. There are almost no coherent events at all. If I'm reading an anti-war book, I'd like to come away knowing why the author despises the violence. I'd also like to know what the purpose of reading the book was. Lacking characters the reader cares about, abundant in poor writing style, and boasting no overarching concept, message, or theme whatsoever, this is not a book I'd recommend.

shoelesssailor Jun 19, 2015

Extremely dark novel, yet enjoyable. I would not recommend this novel for younger readers

kurthallsman Oct 17, 2014

One of the best (among many) of Vonnegut's books. The beginning of his mature snippet (I'm going to describe to you what happens in this book before it actually happens in this book) writing style. And So It Goes. p.s.: The movie is great too.

Emma123bunn May 30, 2014

The first time I started reading this book, I thought it was random and boring, but as I got in to it I greatly enjoyed it. Don't just read because the prestige will make you sound smart, it's not a tough book. It's an enjoyable book that comments on the absurdity of life without ever saying pointless and is empathetic. Favorite war novel after Catch 22, maybe even before it.

JCLBeckyC May 17, 2014

Billy Pilgrim is a World War II soldier with what we would today call post-traumatic stress disorder. He has flashbacks to his time as a prisoner of war during the fire-bombing of Dresden. He loses his grip on reality, believing he has become unstuck in time and has been abducted by aliens. Based on Vonnegut's experiences in the war. My favorite book by one of my all-time favorite authors. Highly recommended.

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Quotes

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SPL_STARR Jun 16, 2015

"All this happened, more or less."

d
ddmyres
Jun 16, 2013

"Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt."

3
3038462sme
May 22, 2013

"So it goes."

l
LazyNeko
Feb 20, 2012

"When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is 'So it goes.'"

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cmlibrary_ecrites Jul 27, 2016

cmlibrary_ecrites thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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ckaldahl
May 31, 2015

ckaldahl thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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Anarchy_Bunny
Sep 08, 2009

Anarchy_Bunny thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Notices

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b
Brooke_Nicole
May 09, 2017

Sexual Content: About a dozen innuendos and there is sex, but it is not described.

b
Brooke_Nicole
May 09, 2017

Coarse Language: A few cuss words.

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