Slaughterhouse Five

3/5 stars

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Billy Pilgrim is one screwed up dude. So it goes.

Some books can’t be reviewed. Generally these fall into two categories: 1) books assigned by lit teachers and 2) books written by Tolkien.

Slaughterhouse five falls into one of those. (Hint…it’s not the second.) I wasn’t assigned to read it–high school was 20 years ago for me. I picked it up voluntarily. Hugh Howie has a new book coming out next week based on Vonnegut that I want to read, so I thought I’d better read this one first. I won’t know if it was necessary until I’m through with Hugh Howie’s, but at least now I can say I read Slaughterhouse Five! Since I can’t review, I’ll just tell you what I thought. And yes, there’s a difference.

Let me first say, I get it. I really do. As a feat of writing, Slaughterhouse Five is impressive. Go ahead and try writing an engaging story with no plot that doesn’t follow a timeline and see if YOUR book becomes a classic. I get that war is horror. I get that in war, even the winners are losers. I appreciated the lesson that war movies portray war as a heroic playground for grown men, but in reality war is a killing ground for children. I hope with all hope that the only way my children will know of the true nature of war is by reading Slaughterhouse Five. I’m glad I read this book because it terrified me. Billy Pilgrim freaked me out. So I get it.

But….

The book was really, really weird. Intentionally weird, it’s true. But weird all the same. So weird I didn’t enjoy it. Slaughterhouse Five was not fun to read, and as shallow as that is, fun happens to be the reason I read.

Oh, and 135,000 weren’t killed in Dresden. It was 25,000. When Vonnegut published in 1969, perhaps that’s what he thought was the truth so he wasn’t trying to mislead intentionally. He didn’t have access to Wikipedia then. Or, maybe he did know and he’s nothing but a half-truth spewing propagandist.

Either way, I might not have been entertained but now I know the truth. I suppose that’s what the whole point was anyway. So it goes.

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