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Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)

by Kurt Vonnegut

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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29,63839831 (4.13)1 / 717
1960s (28)
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Showing 1-5 of 378 (next | show all)
I've read at least 2 or 3 Vonnegut novels so I'm not sure why I was so shocked by how absurd this one was. Maybe it's because it's his most popular novel (as far as I know) so I assumed it would be more mainstream. Sometimes it was funny. Sometimes it was sad and sometimes it went on tangents that just seemed really strange and didn't go anywhere.

The "so it goes" thing go old pretty quick. I started skipping over it as I read it to my wife because both of us were sick of hearing it. There were plenty of times I would finish a paragraph or section and say, "I have no idea what he's talking about."

It reminded me of Catch-22 but I remember enjoying that book a lot more.

So in the end I'm glad I read it so that when people bring it up I know what they're talking about but if it was a completely unknown book I would have felt like I wasted my time. ( )
  ragwaine | Apr 12, 2015 |
'Why don't you write an anti glacier book instead?' I saw this quote on the wall of an exhibition showing photographs of the aftermath of war. And then read the book in the same week as seeing Oppenheimer - a play about the men who developed and built the atomic bomb and dropped it on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The book reminds us that, as seismic as the atomic bomb was, the actual devastation caused by 'conventional' bombing was - at least in Dresden - more total. It also reminds us about the normality, absurdity and surrealism of the human experience as it leaps from Dresden to optometry; from inter planetary abductions to suburban America.

How do you talk about atrocities and terrible things? How do you live through them? Often, Vonnegut tells us, through displacement and through the human will to tell stories and build narrative. This novel is a cornucopia of rich vignettes - Billy Pilgrim in his ramshackle clothes; the British prisoners of war and their pantomime; Kilgore Trout performing at a party - and then when you're looking somewhere else, a reminder that death and destruction is happening all around.
  otterley | Apr 7, 2015 |
My second favorite anti-war novel after "Johnny Got His Gun". This novel is about so many themes but primarily, at its base, it is about war and the negative effects of war on the people who participate in the military, the people who are affected on the ground, the people who are left behind and even the post war generation as Billy Pilgrim's son finds his way to Vietnam.

Vonnegut is such a great story teller because while he imparts this really heavy information - a great example being the animal cruelty as they use the hurt and starving horses to go plundering the empty houses of the victims of Dresden- he is able to tell it in a way that has a light touch without losing the importance of the message.

This book has been around for a long time and I won't rehash it. I just recommend for those that haven't read it to pick it up and spend some time with it. For high school students, grab the study guide and really understand what you're reading, and for those that have already read it, read it again.

Let's raise a glass to the departed Vonnegut and say 'So it goes." ( )
  ozzieslim | Apr 7, 2015 |
In theory I should have loved this book but I just didn't. Vonnegut's "masterpiece" is generally held to be a powerful anti-war book, based on his experience of the bombing of Dresden during WWII and being a prisoner-of-war.
Instead, it comes across as some bizarre interpretation of sci-fi that seems wholly out of place with the message it's trying to put across. The use of an alien abduction immediately set me off on the path of ridiculousness and things only got worse from there on in.
There were some great moments in the book, the comedy is well used and I can see why critics lauded it at the time it was published - as the US was involved in the Vietnam War - it used novel ideas of time travel and explored the concept of "fatalism". However, it just failed to take me along for the ride.
I found the book's protagonist Billy Pilgrim to be a weak and ineffectual man, perhaps that was Vonnegut's point. Pilgrim is unable to effect his circumstances and so goes along for the ride and his experiences are what drives the narrative along.
Having said all of the above though, I would still highly recommend people read this book. ( )
  Cadiva | Apr 1, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 378 (next | show all)
It is a novel about war and what men do to each other in the name of holy causes.

Which is not to say it is anywhere near "The Naked and the Dead" or "From Here to Eternity." Vonnegut fights his wars with feathers rather than with jackhammers. "Slaughterhouse-Five" is funny, satirical, compelling, outrageous, fanciful, mordant, fecund and at the bottom-line, simply stoned-out-of-its-mind.
added by Shortride | editLos Angeles Times, Harlan Ellison (pay site) (Apr 20, 1969)
An agonizing, funny, profoundly rueful attempt by Vonnegut to handle in fable form his own memories of the strategically unnecessary Allied air raid on Dresden... few modern writers have borne witness against inhumanity with more humanity or humor.
added by jjlong | editTime (Apr 11, 1969)
"Slaughterhouse-Five" is an extraordinary success. It is a book we need to read, and to reread. It has the same virtues as Vonnegut's best previous work. It is funny, compassionate and wise. The humor in Vonnegut's fiction is what enables us to contemplate the horror that he finds in contemporary existence. It does not disguise the awful things perceived; it merely strengthens and comforts us to the point where such perception is bearable.
It sounds crazy. It sounds like a fantastic last-ditch effort to make sense of a lunatic universe. But there is so much more to this book. It is very tough and very funny; it is sad and delightful; and it works. But is also very Vonnegut, which mean you'll either love it, or push it back in the science-fiction corner.

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vonnegut, Kurtprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hoog, ElseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jaskari, JuhaniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The cattle are lowing,
The Baby awakes.
But the little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes.
For Mary O'Hare and Gerhard Müller
First words
All this happened, more or less.
"Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops."
"There was a a soft drink bottle on the windowsill. Its label boasted that it contained no nourishment whatsoever."
I have told my sons that they are not under any circumstances to take part in massacres, and that the news of massacres of enemies is not to fill them with satisfaction or glee.
So it goes.

Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (6)

Book description
[R.L. 6.0]
From the World War Two firebombing of Dresden to the distant planet called Tralfamadore, the reader follows Billy Pilgrim in his attempt to understand the natures of time and existence.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385333846, Paperback)

Kurt Vonnegut's absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut's) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.

Don't let the ease of reading fool you--Vonnegut's isn't a conventional, or simple, novel. He writes, "There are almost no characters in this story, and almost no dramatic confrontations, because most of the people in it are so sick, and so much the listless playthings of enormous forces. One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters..." Slaughterhouse-Five (taken from the name of the building where the POWs were held) is not only Vonnegut's most powerful book, it is as important as any written since 1945. Like Catch- 22, it fashions the author's experiences in the Second World War into an eloquent and deeply funny plea against butchery in the service of authority. Slaughterhouse-Five boasts the same imagination, humanity, and gleeful appreciation of the absurd found in Vonnegut's other works, but the book's basis in rock-hard, tragic fact gives it a unique poignancy--and humor.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:19 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Billy Pilgrim returns home from the Second World War only to be kidnapped by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore, who teach him that time is an eternal present.

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