KathyBou’s Blog

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Book Review – Slaughterhouse 5

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SlaughterHouse 5
Kurt Vonnegut

“Everything is all right, and everybody has to do exactly what he does.”

So I finished the book a week ago but wanted to give myself some time to further digest it. I’ll start out by saying that this review will not do this book any justice. Not because I didn’t like it, or that I couldn’t try to create a worthy review, I probably could if I did more research and wrote a paper about it. It’s a book that is both pop culture and as deep as you’d like to take it. I think I could read it 5 more times and get a slightly different impression from it.

To briefly summarize, which makes the plot sound more bizarre than it really comes across, the biggest main character, Billy Pilgrim, is an optometrist, WWII soldier, father, student, child who has become unstuck in time. That is, he randomly moves (as does the story along with him) through different points in his life with no idea what moment he will next live/relive. He also gets abducted by aliens and lives in one of their zoos for a time. Sounds strange but it works out surprisingly well. I think the harder thing to deal with in this book is the themes. War, death, the human condition(?!)

I read this book, read 1, since I’ll read it again, with that feeling you have before you pull a bandaid off. You are so afraid the story is going to take you somewhere very sad, or horrible, that you can’t move through it very fast, but you can’t put it down either.

“My God–what have they done to you, lad? This isn’t a man. It’s a broken kite.”

Kurt Vonnegut was he himself in WWII, and he survived the firebombing of Dresden where 135,000 people were killed. The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima killed 71,370 people. While I had heard about Dresden being destroyed in the war, it doesn’t get as much historical attention since (only) conventional bombs were dropped by the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Force. I’m sure he had things he wanted to “get out” about this time in his life. As usual, the wit is thick; Vonnegut is a master of this.

“At that time, they were teaching that there was absolutely no difference between anybody. They may be teaching that still.”

“All this responsibility at such an early age made her a bitchy flibbertigibbet.”

I highly recommend this novel for everyone to read. I can see more and more, as this is the second novel of his I’ve read, why he is regarded as such a genius.

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Written by Kat

December 21, 2007 at 2:28 pm

Posted in Books

Tagged with , ,

One Response

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  1. I hope Vonnegut’s humanism and peerless satire will survive the coming decades. We need his acerbic wit and jaded view of human affairs to remind us just how puny and weird and pathetic a species we are…

    Cliff Burns

    December 21, 2007 at 3:51 pm


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