Slaughterhouse-Five

Slaughterhouse-Five

Kurt Vonnegut died in 2007. So it goes.

Slaughterhouse-Five, one of his most important works, is a novel based on his own experiences in the Dresden bombing during World War Two. He survives it because the Germans put him along with other American POWs into an underground meat locker known as Schlachthof-fünf, or Slaughterhouse-five. But rather than speak about it plainly, Vonnegut in this book pushes several limits of literature, and the result is a most unique book. It begins with Vonnegut himself talking about the book, and then launches into the story of Billy Pilgrim, the main character, who undergoes spontaneous time travel (he is referred to as “unstuck in time“) , fights in WW2, and is abducted by aliens from Trafalmadore (though not necessarily at the same time or in that order). And so on.

The book is strongly anti-war, depicting numerous counts of death during WWII, as well as in other times. So it goes. To depict this, Vonnegut uses time as a main feature. Not only does Pilgrim as aforementioned travel in time, but the aliens who abduct him are 4-dimensional, and see all time at once. To them, when someone dies, it means nothing because at some point in time they are alive and always alive; they ceremonially say “So it goes.” The plot itself is de facto multi-stranded, as even though it is about one person’s life, it is about different times of it, in seemingly random order.

Just a side note: For part of the time while reading this book, I was listening to the Schindler’s List soundtrack—a very moving WWII combination.

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