Monday, January 12, 2015

Review: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut


by Kurt Vonnegut
This book was selected as my first ever spin pick for the Classics Club. "Wasn't the deadline to post a review for your spin pick January 5th?", you might ask. Why yes, yes it was. But lateness does seem to be my trademark (feel free to ask my old high school teachers - I'm sure they'll agree). I like to think it counts for something that I did have the book read by the 5th, considering it was the holidays, I didn't think I'd end up with any time for reading at all, but luckily, my commute made finishing this one possible. And I'd thankful to Metrolinx for their Go trains, because I LOVED this book.

While it's not overly complicated, I'm still not sure how exactly to sum this book up. So here's the super-short, super-condensed, super-simple version:  Slaughterhouse-Five is the story of Billy Pilgrim, a private in  WW2 who becomes a prisoner of war and survives the bombing of Dresden. Billy Pilgrim gets "unstuck" in time and is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. The book follows Billy Pilgrim throughout his life as he jumps back and forth between different time periods, including the time he spent in the war and on Tralfamadore.

This was my first Vonnegut and I was a little skeptical at first, I didn't think I would enjoy it after reading the first few pages because it seemed really absurd - almost too absurd. Normally I love the weird and wacky but something about the opening pages of this book really put me off. I'm so glad that this was my spin pick because it made me force myself to give this book a chance. After the first chapter I was hooked. I especially loved it when the Tralfamadorians explained to Pilgrim that time isn't linear, that in fact, it's really just a big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey... oh, wait. Wrong alien. It wasn't what I expected from an anti-war novel, because all I've ever heard of it was that it was satire and "darkly humorous". And it was those things, but it was also incredibly beautiful and poignant. I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads, but now I'm thinking it should have been a five.

This book is almost impossible to review, so please enjoy these quotes from Slaughterhouse-Five, all of which I am sure you've already heard:

Slaughterhouse-FiveI have this disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone.

All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist.

Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.

Everything is nothing, with a twist.

All this happened, more or less.

So it goes.




  1. I read this novel years ago and remembering enjoying it at the time but can barely recall anything about it now other than Vonnegut's propensity for writing effective satire and witty charm. Seems like I will have to read it again sometime soon. I am planning to read more of his work this year as well with "Sirens of Titan" and "Breakfast of Champions" lined up.

    1. I would recommend a re-read :) Breakfast of champions is currently sitting on my tbr pile. Hopefully I'll get to it soon!