Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Genre: Classics, Sci-fi
Prisoner of war, optometrist, time-traveller - these are the life roles of Billy Pilgrim, hero of this miraculously moving, bitter and funny story of innocence faced with apocalypse. Slaughterhouse 5 is one of the world's great anti-war books. Centring on the infamous fire-bombing of Dresden in the Second World War, Billy Pilgrim's odyssey through time reflects the journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know.
Me: My first encounter with Kurt Vonnegut has been...mind-boggling to say the least.
The Ups: Where to begin? This book is a strange sort of mystical magic. Vonnegut explores the concept of time and of fate in the most literarily perfect way possible. It is extremely difficult to pull off such an absurd concept and link it into the plotline while still creating an emotional connection to the characters and creating a story that does not bore.
So, Kurt Vonnegut, in my eyes, has the official right to be a downright snob, because this book was kinda genius. First, let us meet Billy Pilgrim, the most unlikely of war heroes, who seems to have always been terribly alone. Billy represents human life at its average-est, and he asks the question that all of us seem to be afraid of saying aloud. "What is life worth living for?" Billy Pilgrim does not dwell on creating the best of life; he is satisfied with what he can get.
The two concepts that I must address are fate and time. They are interconnected in this novel, as all things are, and Billy Pilgrim's experience with them and the Tralfamadorians who think of time as a dimension they can experience is fascinating. "All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist." This is explored as the novel changes scenes randomly as Billy Pilgrim experiences the full dimension of time.
Fate is very interesting in this novel. It mentions the terrible bombing of Dresden during World War II, but Billy Pilgrim seems to think that it was almost inevitable, that is was meant to be, would have happened no matter what. I don't think that that means the Dresden bombing was fate itself, but rather that human beings were destined to make the choices leading up to that tragedy. That is where the book is interesting, because it does not criticize war but rather everything and anything that forms around war, and therefore criticizes the human race.
The Downs: I am not a huge fan of sci-fi, or very unique writing personalities. This book was a bit hard to follow and incohesive, until I realized that that was the POINT of the book, at which point I just let go of everything and read.
Overall: Definitely an exquisite experience.
Rating: 4 kisses!