Slaughterhouse-Five

By Kurt Vonnegut

The Short Take:

Vonnegut’s most celebrated novel is an amazing amalgamation of personal experience, history, anti-war sentiment, and either mental instability or science fiction — or maybe some of both. It’s a brilliant read and as timely now as when it came out in 1969.

Why?

Because this is one of the most important novels of the 20th century, that’s “why” for starters. Beyond that, this novel is amazingly intricate, cramming an exceptional amount of fascinating story-telling into a mere 275 pages (trade paperback).

Intriguing characters are regularly introduced; from our anti-hero, Billy Pilgrim, to the writer of terrible sci-fi, Kilgore Trout, to the alien Tralfamadorians, who live in four dimensions. Even the “bit players” add significantly to the story.

The book jumps around in time (and space, maybe), but still manages to tell a linear story. Vonnegut is a masterful writer and he’s at the top of his game in this one — maybe because this novel is so deeply personal for him. Vonnegut experienced the Dresden bombing first-hand.

A Little Plot:

That’s easier said than done. Billy Pilgrim became unstuck in time when he was a kid fighting in WWII. Well, not exactly fighting. He’s lost, captured, and winds up a POW in Dresden during the horrific Allied bombing of that city.

For the rest of his life, he never knows when or where he’ll be at any time (maybe), plus he is abducted by aliens (maybe) the evening after his daughters wedding. The alien’s way of seeing the universe gives him a message of hope he decides to share with all.

But that’s just a very little bit of plot.

If you want to visit the official Kurt Vonnegut site, click here.

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