Saturday, April 21, 2007
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse-Five is perhaps one of the most recognizable anti-war novels. I had blushingly never read this one before. It's one of Megan's favorite books, and she's tried to get me to read it for years. And now I have, and I'm so glad that I have.
Slaughterhouse-Five is Kurt Vonnegut's satirical tale of Billy Pilgrim, a World War II veteran who is "unstuck in time." What this means is that Pilgrim often disconnects from the present and picks up again at some other time in his life and usually at a different location. Pilgrim was in Dresden during the bombings, he was in Nazi concentration camps, he was at home with his wife, visiting with his recently married daughter, visiting with his son who was a green beret, being abducted by aliens and taken to the planet, Tralfamador, where he is put on display at a zoo.
I found this book to be quite powerful. It's a touching story at times, very light-hearted and almost humorous at times, and at other times just disturbing. It's a story that will always remain relevant in these days of war. It shows how powerful of a thing war is and the traumatic toll that it can have on the life of a soldier.
Vonnegut's writing style is amazing. I found myself asking "what makes a book a classic?" This book is the perfect example of a classic. It's a writing style that's totally in a league of it's own. The book flows so easily, yet there's so many complex connections made in it. Little tiny lines that stand out at first come back in a major way later in the book tying into the main plot. Vonnegut was a master of the American novel.
This book was read for the banned book challenge. I can see how this book would unfortunately be banned for so many reasons. Most of them to do with politics and war. There are probably some religious groups that have tried to ban this book as well for some of it's references to Jesus.
It's a sad thing that Kurt Vonnegut died recently. The world is a little less fortunate without him in it. He's contributed so many other classics to American Literature and I look forward to reading some of them. He's an author that will be missed by a huge number of fans...So it goes...