Friday, March 13, 2015

Book Club / Banned Books / TBR Pile: Slaughterhouse-Five

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut is considered one of the greatest anti-war classics of all time. It is about the life of a man named Billy Pilgrim, an American prisoner-of-war during the fire-bombing of Dresden in WWII, and the choices and consequences of war and life.

(picture taken from Goodreads;
cover illustrations by Kurt Vonnegut;
cover design by Lynn Buckley)

First Impression: Many people have told me that this is a classic and that Vonnegut is a fantastic author. Book group was the final push to read it, but I've found it quite a bit different than I expected. Vonnegut's writing style, while unique, is not producing the profound, moving war story I expected--rather, a sarcastic nonchalance about war and death. Is it humorous or just not incredibly dark? I don't know. I also can't tell what's going on with the alien and space thing that he's added. I'm not sure if the story's supposed to be sci-fi or if Billy's life is just a confusing jumble. I'm pretty sure he's weeping as a result of PTSD, and I've found the glimpses into WWII and life in the 40s and 50s to be fascinating. We'll see what happens.

Conclusion: I'm not sure how I felt about this, honestly. I found it hard to connect to the characters, which is an issue for me. I guess my favorite character would be Vonnegut himself. My favorite parts of this book were the beginning and the end, when Vonnegut is describing his own experiences trying to remember the Dresden burning (he was actually there as a POW) and to write this book. His approach to death and acceptance with this repeated "So it goes" statement actually made sense to me from personal experience. However, it's hard to judge the believability of a chunk of the book, because Vonnegut brings aliens and jumping around in time into the picture. The easiest way for me to accept this is to chalk Billy's issues up to PTSD or at least confusion mixed with trauma, but the narration accepts Billy's experiences as real and not a result of any mental adjustment. I think parts of this book are well worth reading. I learned a few things I didn't know before about the war, and I'm glad I read this. That being said, if Vonnegut didn't have such good writing style and genre-bending tactics to intrigue, I'm not sure his works would be considered literature. "So it goes."

Slaughterhouse-Five is my third read for the Banned Book Challenge 2015 and my fifth read for the 2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge. I'm doing pretty well with these so far--how are you all doing with your challenges this year? Don't forget to enter my current giveaway in which this book is one of the prizes!

6 comments:

  1. Okay, so I was confusing this with a completely different book, I think. Probably... The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Huh. I didn't know this was about WWII at all!

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    1. Oh yeah, The Jungle is about factories. :) Slaughterhouse-Five is well-worth a read, although I will say, "Read with caution." Try not to go in with too many expectations, because it's kind of out there.

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  2. I haven't read this novel by Kurt Vonnegut or any novel by him yet... I've been wanting to read a novel by him, but haven't decided on which one at this time... So many books waiting to be read in my massive 'TBR' stack, so little time!

    I'm also participating in both the 2015 Audiobook Challenge and the 2015 Banned Book Challenge as well... So far, I've only managed to read and review one banned book this year, but have a few other ones lined up. :-)

    Happy reading!

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    1. I had the same feeling of indecision, but my book group decided for me. One of the members read it when he was in high school and was eager to re-visit it, although I think it's a strange choice for school curriculum. And I know exactly what you mean! I think I have a TBR list of over 400 books on Goodreads, and that's not even all of them!

      My banned book reads so far have actually been happy accidents. Books I already happen to be reading that were also banned at one time, you know. Good luck with your reading! Maybe we can inspire one another!

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  3. P. S. I just started following your blog!

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    1. Thanks, and welcome to the small but loveable group! :) Still working on some of the technical stuff with my blog, so if you ever have any suggestions, let me know!

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