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Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel by Kurt…

Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel (original 1969; edition 1999)

by Kurt Vonnegut

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29,93441430 (4.13)1 / 729
Title:Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel
Authors:Kurt Vonnegut
Info:Dial Press Trade Paperback (1999), Edition: Reissue, Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library

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Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)

1960s (28)
Read (35)
Unread books (1,145)

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English (392)  Italian (5)  Spanish (3)  German (3)  French (3)  Swedish (2)  Dutch (2)  Czech (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (412)
Showing 1-5 of 392 (next | show all)
Slaughterhouse Five refuses to sit quietly in a single specific genre. The short book appears to have a bit of everything, all glued together with a disheartening and dark kind of humour and criticism. There’s war, death, aliens, time-travel, and even a porn star.
Confused? Not to worry. Kurt Vonnegut continually pulls readers in and out of reality and what must be Billy Pilgrim’s fantasy, rather smoothly. Parts of the story are not told in chronological order, but make sense as they are placed. But readers have to pay attention to detail to understand the underlying themes woven into the plot. The writing itself is simple easy to understand, though the plot is much more complex, as Billy becomes “unstuck in time”. As a broken soldier, he appears to suffer from PTSD (as was not unusual for other sufferers of World War II). His story is told very bluntly and matter-of-factly, which makes the story sound both like a tragedy and poor comedy at the same time.
Also, a very un-author-ly thing that Vonnegut does in the introduction, is tell readers exactly how the story is going to end, among other technical-spoilers. But no, it shouldn’t kill your view on the rest of the book too much. So it goes. ( )
  haru.T | Jul 22, 2015 |
Since almost all of us are born at different times and there is no set chronological cultural-experience list (that I know of), most readers end up like the protagonist, jumping through time and across genres. Thus fifty years on, with countless media portrayals of everyday-people-affected-by-war in between, the author's depiction of the absurdity and futility of wars and the people caught up in them ends up being just that, absurd and futile, further condemned by the simple, repetitive and fragmented prose which was probably intended to contrast and compound the original message. (two stars off)

Things I enjoyed:
- the narrator's drunk-dialling at the beginning of the book. I wonder how common that was back in the days of needing a telephone operator,
- the time reversal from the protagonist's point of view in chapter four,
- Kilgore Trout and
- the Tralfamadorians' inexplicably humorous fatalism which came about from their four-dimensional-capable perceptions.
I did not enjoy the misspellings/mis-scan-to-text-s in my Vintage Classics 2000 edition: Walt was spelt as WaIt on page 15 and evening as evenmg on page 69.

Recommended if you have not read or watched any e-p-a-b-w genres. Feel free to skip this book and any anti-war materials if you have watched Grave of the Fireflies and have received your cried-fifty-litres certificate, your anti-war education is complete. ( )
  kitzyl | Jul 21, 2015 |
Like with all of Kurt's books, Slaughterhouse 5 is consistently entertaining and surprisingly (maybe it isn't a surprise actually) thoughtful and complex. ( )
  Braden_Timss | Jul 17, 2015 |
The author crafted a masterpiece highly witty and funny. The book broke the traditional chronological order of events. Billy shifts in time forwards and backwards without disrupting the smooth flow of the narrative. The author amazingly kept the events coherent and whole regardless of the constant travelling back and forth in time. This technique allowed Billy to predict what will become of him and the other characters. He is totally omniscient. I had some doubts that the Tralfamadorians scenes are a figment of his imagination due to some situations he went through like morphine, fractured skull, mental hospital, and hallucinations; but the author keeps trying to validate the authenticty of the encounter of the aliens who seem to developed a higher culture than the earthlings. Death for them is not death. It is a form of life in the fourth dimension. An excellent read. It deserves my 5 stars. ( )
  Mohamed80 | Jul 11, 2015 |
My rating for this is actually 2.85*. I'm accurate like that.

I think post-modernism literature is just not my cup of tea. While I can stand minimalist prose, Vonnegut's writing just seem too short and detached for me to find it interesting. And also, HOW is this satirical? Just because there's always a "So it goes" after every death mentioned? Just because the narration is all 'matter-of-fact'-like? Also, why is there a need to proclaim something 'anti-war'? If you give me any other book on wars, I'd automatically assume that they are against it. Why? BECAUSE IT'S WAR. Unless you're glorifying warfare in your writing, I have no reason to think it is 'pro-war' in any way.

"His prose was frightful. Only his ideas were good." (p.140)

On the bright side, I liked the plot and the characters. I especially love Kilgore Trout, the writer. (I'd actually love to read his novels but unfortunately, they're not real.) Although I didn't find anything humorous in the book, I'd say some parts were pretty amusing. But that's it.

I don't think I shall buy another Vonnegut book. I did see that my school library has Cat's Cradle on the literature shelf though... so I might try reading that first before confirming my dislike for his writing. ( )
  novewong | Jul 8, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 392 (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
Brioschi, LuigiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chesterman, AdrianIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ferrer, JoseNarratorsecondary authorsome 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.)
Disambiguation notice
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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 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)

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