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Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-five (original 1969; edition 1994)

by Kurt Vonnegut

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
31,69647425 (4.12)1 / 792
Authors:Kurt Vonnegut
Info:New York, N.Y.: Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence, 1994.
Collections:Your library

Work details

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)

  1. 342
    Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (kiwiflowa, Anonymous user)
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  3. 111
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  4. 114
    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (weener)
  5. 50
    Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut (esswedl)
    esswedl: Both of these Vonnegut novels involve the question of free will (and both are great).
  6. 41
    Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo (waitingtoderail)
  7. 20
    Crash Gordon and the Mysteries of Kingsburg by Derek Swannson (jasbro)
  8. 31
    Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (JenMDB)
  9. 43
    The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (andomck)
    andomck: Both books, besides having science fiction/magical realism elements, discuss bloody episodes of WWII from the point of view of everyday people.
  10. 10
    Tertium Organum by P. D. Ouspensky (sombrio)
  11. 21
    Armageddon in Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut (Ronoc)
  12. 21
    Kurt Vonnegut's crusade; or, How a postmodern harlequin preached a new kind of humanism by Todd F. Davis (pyrocow)
  13. 11
    Candide by Voltaire (SCPeterson)
    SCPeterson: Vonnegut is the Voltaire of our age of un-enlightenment.
  14. 00
    1968 by Joe Haldeman (snat)
  15. 11
    The Book of Jonas by Stephen Dau (PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: War is not glorious and even survivors are not unscathed.
  16. 03
    The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (chwiggy)
  17. 25
    Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman (ateolf)
1960s (27)
Read (36)
Reiny (3)
Unread books (1,036)

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English (450)  Italian (5)  French (4)  German (3)  Spanish (3)  Swedish (2)  Dutch (2)  Hebrew (1)  Czech (1)  Hungarian (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (473)
Showing 1-5 of 450 (next | show all)
For a mature audience, my favorite book. High school history classes or english classes could benefit from reading this ( )
  rileyjb | Oct 24, 2016 |
I pulled this from my shelf to reread in August 2016. I can't say it's one of my favorites, but it is so unconventional, and it's underlying cynical determinism is so depressing, that I'm surprised I like it. But I do. Part of the reason is probably that it is so different. There is no real plot, no heroes or villains, and there's nothing special about the prose. It's just a series of chronologically disjointed scenes from the life of some poor sap caught up in events he can do nothing about. That's the way life feels sometimes, though. Your live. You die. So it goes. ( )
  DLMorrese | Oct 14, 2016 |
A war book that is so much more than just about war. The book can be gritty and dark, but also funny. It tries to show the atrocities of war, but it also covers the idea of time and death. The ideas and the writing style are very original for its time. He took a difficult concept to even conceive and wrote a fantastic book that draws you in. The audiobook narrated by James Franco is pretty good. He does a great job on dialogue but occasionally is hard to understand through his enunciation. ( )
  renbedell | Oct 1, 2016 |
3 stars ( )
  JennysBookBag.com | Sep 28, 2016 |
I tried picking this book up for the first time when I was 14 and didn't end up finishing it. I wanted to be a Vonnegut fan, I wanted to enjoy the book and find an intense illumination within it like so many others seemingly did. Said expectation and desires took the wind out of my sails though and I think I'm very glad that they did. If they hadn't I don't think I would have been able to appreciate it in the way I do now, upon finishing it a few minutes ago.

For instance, I recently read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Another book I wasn't at a place to finish as a teen because it flung open views within myself that I wasn't at a place to have or examine. As a very good lit teacher I was lucky enough to have once said, "the best stories are the ones that come into your story at just the right time." I put both The Bell Jar and Slaughterhouse-Five on the same level when it comes to a genuinely wrought plunge into depression, PTSD, and the fallible human.

The main complaints I've seen about Slaughterhouse-Five seem to concern the ultimate style of the book which is often said to be less influential and impressive these days than it was when the book was published and the over-usage of 'so it goes.' I'm not a Vonnegut expert and will not pretend to comment on the whole of his work. But I will say that I took the style of this book as more a glimpse into the emotional and neurological effects of PTSD rather than a stylistic enterprise. It is certainly chaotic but, viewing it this way, I did feel it added an essential element to the book. As for the repetition, I believe it was also essential... at least from the context of Vonnegut's personal expressions. For example, I found myself remembering (time jumping to?) various experiences I've had with grief/loss/death as well as trauma. And, on the outside of those experiences, I don't think anything felt more poignant than these three words.

I'm hoping I can explain the above adequately... from my experiences, I don't believe grief is a vacuum that can be bottled up into a specific amount of time. I believe both it and PTSD span further than that in a lifetime. That you might grieve the loss of someone because of a random memory or because you're at a different level of maturity in your life and did not previously possess the same depths as you do in this moment. I think there isn't really a better example of this than that of children that lose a parent at a young age or soldiers that lose their friends in the middle of a war. There isn't a well for grief to draw from in the moment so you can easily see how it takes shape in different avenues of their lives. Such as a kid acting out, dealing with intense depression through a relatively happy event in their later lives, etc. This long-standing relationship with grief, loss, ptsd, etc. also shapes the person's attitudes towards more personal loss or (at least) loss in an intellectual context.

Hence, 'so it goes.' Because for those that have crossed that line in life, that really is the way it goes. To some it may signify an ambivalence but, from my perspective across the line, I believe it is simply an accurate acknowledgement of reality and personal context. So I actually felt as if each individual repetition packed quite a wallop within itself. ( )
1 vote lamotamant | Sep 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 450 (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 (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vonnegut, Kurtprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Владимир ФилиповTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brioschi, LuigiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chesterman, AdrianIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ferrer, JoseNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Franco, JamesNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoog, ElseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jaskari, JuhaniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Important places
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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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (4)

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:01 -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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 16 descriptions

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