Book Review: Slaughterhouse 5

Slaughterhouse 5
by Kurt Vonnegut

A little bit ago, I found this cool blog with a bunch of literary tattoos called Contrariwise. Although I highly doubt I'll ever get tattooed, I'm always intrigued by what others decide to burn into their skin indefinitely. I found some repeats: tattoos about the Little Prince, The Giving Tree, Dr. Seuss references, tons of elvish writing and a boatload of Kurt Vonnegut snippets out of Slaughterhouse 5. Hence, I thought that if people were permanently putting his words into their skin, I thought that reading his book would be worthwhile. It was.

This book is essentially about a guy in World War II and the firebombing of Dresden, Germany. It's sort of a mind-bender, as the main character, Billy Pilgrim, travels through time, visits an alien planet and survives the ferocious firebombing of Dresden.

Although there's the science fiction twists of aliens and time travel, I actually think that is a bit of a distraction created by the author. The whole time travel concept really made me think about memory and its preservation. I've heard some criticism about this book minimizing the Holocaust, but I thought nothing of the sort. I actually thought it complimented the entire idea of memory during WWII, but this was a story from a very different perspective, namely, the American soldier perspective.

After each mention of death, there is the pictured phrase, "So it goes." It is repeated many, many times, giving a reader an idea of how often in life we experience death. I have found myself using this little phrase more and more often in my own speech. I guess you really are what you read!

Anyway, here's a couple passages I particularly enjoyed:

"Trout, incidentally, had written a book about a money tree. It had twenty-dollar bills for leaves. Its flowers were government bonds. Its fruit was diamonds. It attracted human beings who killed each other around the roots and
made very good fertilizer.
So it goes." (p. 159)

"Now he quoted Theodore Roosevelt, whom he resembled a lot: 'I could carve a better man out of a banana.'" (p. 176)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I read that book about 25 years ago.

Very bizarre, all over the place...with WWII, POW"s, aliens, and time travel.

But I really liked it. It made me a fan, afterwards I ended up reading almost all of Vonnegut's books.

- Friar