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It took Vonnegut more than 20 years to put his Dresden experiences into words. He explained, "there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre. Everybody is supposed to be dead, to never say anything or want anything ever again."
Slaughterhouse Five is a powerful novel incorporating a number of genres. Only those who have fought in wars can say whether it represents the experience well. However, what the novel does do is invite the reader to look at the absurdity of war. Human versus human, hedonist politicians pressing buttons and ordering millions to their deaths all for ideologies many cannot even comprehend.
Flicking between the US, 1940's Germany and Tralfamadore, Vonnegut's semi- autobiographical protagonist Billy Pilgrim finds himself very lost. One minute he is being viewed as a specimen in a Tralfamadorian Zoo, the next he is wandering a post-apocalyptic city looking for corpses.
Slaughterhouse Five-Or The Children's Crusade A Duty-Dance with Death is a remarkable blend of black humour, irony, the truth and the absurd. The author regards his work a "failure", millions of readers do not.
Released the same time bombs were falling on South East Asia, this title caused controversy and awakening. Essential reading for all. So it goes. -Jon Smith Review '
A marvellous excursion...the writing is pungent, the antics uproarious, the wit as sharp as a hypodermic needle' - Daily Telegraph
Slaughterhouse Five (fiction)
Kurt Vonnegut (Author)
customer reviews (Yes)
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Reviews from Amazon:
Taught now in English classes as a post-modern sketch of the absurdity of war, this novel uses a collage of techniques and genres--science fiction, episodic storytelling, Absurdism, memoir--to get its point across. It's point can still be missed, however. War is fought by children, Vonnegut explains, caught up in something that they often do not understand. Therein lay the absurdity. Vonnegut's own personal history, captured and held in Dresden during the bombing, allowed him first hand to witness the devastation war can bring.
Ideologies are transient, he realizes. And the destruction of one of the most beautiful European cities and the deaths of 24,000 human beings had a profound effect on him. What is the point? Examine the purpose of life. What is it? The story demands the reader to ask questions of him/herself. Also, the impact this book has had on literature can't be ignored. In an earlier review, the stylistic similarities to Adams and Irving, both who followed Vonnegut and so were obviously influenced, was mentioned. That's important.
You can trace a number of modern satirists to Vonnegut--Palahniuk being my own personal favorite. Whether you agree with Vonnegut's stance on war as absurd or not, Slaughterhouse-Five is worth a careful reading.
Slaughterhouse 5 is every bit as good as it's reputation suggests. It is witty, observant, humane, and clever. Vonnegut writes in a deceptively simple prose, but which must have been difficult to have pulled off: namely, the way the story flits from the present to the past and to the future, very often in a single page, but manages to do it without disturbing the effortless flow of the narrative.
No mean trick for a writer. A favourite book of mine. I can also recommend some of his earlier books: The Sirens of Titan; Piano Player; Mother Night, and Player Piano. His later books are not so hot; but Slaughterhouse 5 is his masterpiece. Like Heller's Catch 22, with which it has something in common, it is fun to read.
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