1. Welcome to BookAndReader!

    We LOVE books and hope you'll join us in sharing your favorites and experiences along with your love of reading with our community. Registering for our site is free and easy, just CLICK HERE!

    Already a member and forgot your password? Click here.

Kurt Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse-Five

Discussion in 'Sci-Fi, Fantasy, & Horror Books' started by Ell, Jan 30, 2005.

  1. Freya

    Freya New Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2004
    Messages:
    1,687
    Likes Received:
    1
    Currently Reading:
    A Clockwork Orange
    I brought this topic up last night in the pub (had to explain the bad back) and most people said their cats quite liked peering at their own reflection. Quite a few people went home with the intention of putting their various pets on a mirror. You've started a craze!
     
  2. Token_BS_Name

    Token_BS_Name New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2005
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    Currently Reading:
    The Ground Beneath Her Feet -Rushdie
    I think my favorite scene is when Billy is marching to the schlincter hoonf in the gold boots with the pathetic woman's coat. It's really easy to get caught up in the sheer entertainment of the novel, but do you ever just stop and admire the pictures he's managed to paint in your mind's eye?
     
  3. GeoffNelder

    GeoffNelder Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    3
    Currently Reading:
    Jaine Fenn's The Principles of Angels
    This is my first Vonnegut book but I came from a long history of SF&F reading so I was ready for it. However, once into it, Billy Pilgrim's experiences of aliens and time travel seemed less like SF than hallucination to me. In fact the plot worked better for me that way.
    I love playing around with time concepts and the aliens' view of seeing the whole experience of a man's life simultaneously rather than just bemoan it's ending is brilliant. This book is so deep. I should break a self-imposed rule and re-read it.

    Geoff
     
  4. Stewart

    Stewart Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2004
    Messages:
    7,594
    Likes Received:
    1
    This book is doing my head in. I'm not enjoying it. So it goes. :mad:
     
  5. Stewart

    Stewart Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2004
    Messages:
    7,594
    Likes Received:
    1
    Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5 is seen as his best work and a modern classic although, having completed it, I’m left wondering why. Blending science fiction with his memoirs Vonnegut has created a meta-fictional novel where time travel is a primary plot device; one that allows him the freedom to dismiss chronology in the telling of his tale.

    Billy Pilgrim is a war veteran, having been a prisoner of war in a converted abattoir in Dresden. Years after the war he is involved in a plane crash which causes him to become “unstuck in time”; a strange condition that allows him to travel to any point in his life, or even to the planet Tralfamadore where the aliens that live there view life as a single representation of every moment. Through his frequent travels in time, Billy Pilgrim gets to relive many points of his life such as Dresden, his marriage, and even his death; all of these combine to show Billy’s attempt at making sense of the world, his fatalist conclusions permeating the novel.

    The story of Billy Pilgrim doesn’t start until the second chapter, the first, instead, being the author’s apology for the novel’s mess (although he states you can’t make sense of a massacre) and how, in his mind, the book came to be. The prose is minimalist and repetitive. Phrases appear regularly or statements reappear reworded. The use of “so it goes” whenever something dies, be it a person or bubbles in champagne, is understandable, however, in its need to demonstrate death as something routine and cheap, it does become grating.

    There are many characters in Slaughterhouse 5 although I don’t feel that any of them were given much depth. People appear for a paragraph and then Billy Pilgrim is off on his travels before you have a chance to get to know them. Even Billy failed to hold my attention, possibly because we fail to really get to know him. The author spends time telling us about him rather than showing him doing anything which, I feel, cheapens the experience. His condition, that of being “unstuck in time”, leaves a nice ambiguity about the novel although it’s highly probable that his travelling is a delusional passage between memories brought on by the trauma of witnessing the bombing of Dresden.

    Maybe the book is a product of its time or maybe there’s something I’m missing but Slaughterhouse 5 is not a novel I’d recommend. Having no experience of Vonnegut’s other work I can’t say whether this book, being part memoir, is a typical example of his canon. While the novel is understandably a mess, I can’t help but feel that the prose and characterisation are lacking and what, on paper, sounds like a great idea has been put through a literary slaughterhouse. So it goes.
     
  6. novella

    novella Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2004
    Messages:
    3,337
    Likes Received:
    4
    Currently Reading:
    tea leaves, palms, and tarot cards, 5 cents a consultation
    I think this is a 'modern classic' because it is a mandatory read in a lot of schools, and I think it is read in school because the symbolism and moral rectitude are so obvious, plus it has the ever-appealing SF aspect. Sort of like The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit for pot-smoking juvvies.
     
  7. Borgekafkamus

    Borgekafkamus kickbox

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Of course, that is correct. A pyschological break from reality when it gets to difficult to face. If I read one more review of this book where someone doesn't realize this yet still extolls it as a classic, or Vonnegut as a genius . . .
     
  8. Stewart

    Stewart Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2004
    Messages:
    7,594
    Likes Received:
    1
    I'm unclear here...are you under the misconception that I thought it was a classic, or were you referring to others that actually liked it without understanding its intricacies?
     
  9. SFG75

    SFG75 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2005
    Messages:
    7,133
    Likes Received:
    90
    Currently Reading:
    The Road to Character; David Brooks
    Oooooookay, an aged thread, but one with some interesting viewpoints. :D The first chapter was quite a surprise, I think it's original and fresh what Vonnegut did with it, in regards to making it a personal "gonzo" jouranlism thing, at least, that's what it reminded me of. I do like the repetition of "so it goes" and don't feel that it detracts from the book in anyway. It helps to marginalize death as it is portrayed in the book. From the scouts who truged along with Billy in Germany, to Billy's father, to Billy himself, all deaths are stated matter of factly and in a matter of factly manner that suggests insignificance.

    I began reading this one last night and enjoyed it so much, that I'm half way through the book. I'm not certain if I agree with Stewart that character development was well....undeveloped. Billy's description is more than adequate, ditto Edgar Derby and the mean fat guy with the cool knife. Each of those characters are depicted in clarity IMHO. I can see that Montana appears to not be a separate character thus far, will reserve judgment until I've finished it to see if I find her "voice.";)
     
  10. WoundedThorns

    WoundedThorns New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2005
    Messages:
    547
    Likes Received:
    1
    Currently Reading:
    Frank McCourt's "Angela's Ashes"
    i did not enjoy it as much as i thought i would. i suppose i didn't like the sci-fi elements tied in, even though i understand that those contributed to the sataric themes.
     
  11. sparkchaser

    sparkchaser Administrator and Stuntman Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2007
    Messages:
    11,612
    Likes Received:
    203
    Currently Reading:
    between the lines
    Admin Post
    Agreed. I'm in the minority here but as far as "war is bad" novels go, this is one of the worst I have ever read.
     
  12. WoundedThorns

    WoundedThorns New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2005
    Messages:
    547
    Likes Received:
    1
    Currently Reading:
    Frank McCourt's "Angela's Ashes"
    o_O i dunno if i'd go as far as stating that its the worst anti-war novel i've ever read. Vonnegut has a unique style, but i've read better books of his
     
  13. sparkchaser

    sparkchaser Administrator and Stuntman Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2007
    Messages:
    11,612
    Likes Received:
    203
    Currently Reading:
    between the lines
    Admin Post
    That's why I said "one of" [​IMG]

    I enjoyed Cat's Cradle much more than I did Slaughterhouse-Five. I have 3 or 4 Vonnegut book's sitting on my reading stack. Perhaps this fall I will get them.
     
  14. WoundedThorns

    WoundedThorns New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2005
    Messages:
    547
    Likes Received:
    1
    Currently Reading:
    Frank McCourt's "Angela's Ashes"
    As did I, much better book
     
  15. SFG75

    SFG75 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2005
    Messages:
    7,133
    Likes Received:
    90
    Currently Reading:
    The Road to Character; David Brooks
    It was less direct in regards to being anti-war. Vonnegut took on the nation that bad things like "war" are inevitable and that we as humans, seem to just accept it. Unless you read reviews and previews of it, I don't think it's something the average reader "catches" on average, though I could be wrong. Like Woundedthorns, some of the sci-fi stuff was just too weird for me. I have never had the desire to read that stuff, and I'm pretty liberal in my reading tastes.
     
  16. The waveguide

    The waveguide Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2005
    Messages:
    351
    Likes Received:
    1
    Regarding horrors in Dresden it is no different from what probably people witnessed in London or Minsk or other cities bombed by Germans. And yet it is nothing in comparison to what people had survive (if lucky) in concentrattion camps. So this perspective of reading the book is a rather repelling than wellcoming.

    But war is bad, and for this message I'd read this book. It is a pity that the WWII did not START by bombing Dresden but FINISHED with it. Then may be it would be clear to Germans that war is bad before it even started... Ironic that it took to bomb Dresden to get to this understending, isn't it?
     
  17. beer good

    beer good Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2006
    Messages:
    5,510
    Likes Received:
    52
    Currently Reading:
    "NW", Smith
    Are you serious?
     
  18. The waveguide

    The waveguide Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2005
    Messages:
    351
    Likes Received:
    1
    Well, was bombing of the whole world serious? Or were the concentration camps just a mere joke? Ha-Ha-Ha, very funny indeed:D
     
  19. beer good

    beer good Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2006
    Messages:
    5,510
    Likes Received:
    52
    Currently Reading:
    "NW", Smith
    Well, obviously I said no such thing. I just thought yours was a very naive statement, but I'm sorry, I probably shouldn't have commented on it. You should read the book, though.
     
  20. The waveguide

    The waveguide Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2005
    Messages:
    351
    Likes Received:
    1
    Anyways, I've already asked you in the other thread - what would you suggest as the best work of Vonnegut? I'd buy then several books by him.
     

Share This Page