Thursday, February 28, 2013

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

TITLE: Slaughterhouse-Five
AUTHOR: Kurt Vonnegut
PUBLISHER/YEAR: Dell Books/ 1969
SOURCE: Purchased 

Goodreads / Author's Website

I figured it was about time to read another classic the other day so I picked up Slaughterhouse-Five. I can't believe this is the first time I've read a Vonnegut novel, for god's sake, I even took a course on the Beats last year. Plus, huge Footloose fan over here. I have to say, initially I didn't love this one, but it was a difficult read for me, but I definitely appreciated and with some time away from it, my opinions are beginning to change. The book affected me and well for me, that's a sign of a great novel.  

I have to admit I found this book's fatalistic tone to be well, depressing. Death becomes meaningless. Nothing matters because everything has already happened. Free will doesn't exist as time isn't linear, but everything has happened at once and what will be will be because it's already happened. I can appreciate this message in its historical sense; Vonnegut was writing at a time when one war ended and another had begun. Death tolls were rising and what was the point of it all? I don't think that depressing is necessarily bad in this context. It fit. 

Honestly, how much can you really say about a classic novel like this one? This was Vonnegut's response to Dresden, one of the great massacres in World War 2. It has Billy Pilgrim and Vonnegut's voice mixing as Vonnegut really was in Dresden when it was fire bombed. But you can't really sum it up by saying it's an anti-war novel, although I don't think you'd be lying. It skirts around the war, going back there in bits and pieces as Billy travels there through time.

Slaughterhouse-Five goes beyond an anti-war novel. It jumps genres. It delves into science fiction, uses biting satire and well, it's all these things that make it such a great novel, right? It's just as relevant today as it was in 1969. 

I know these are just some super short disjointed thoughts on a novel, but I think I'm still thinking this one through. There's just so much going on and I kind of want to read every essay ever written on it. Anybody have any thoughts on this one?

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