There are some terrible reviews of SH5 floating around Goodreads, but one particularly awful sentiment is that Slaughterhouse Five isn t anti war.
This is usually based on the following quote It had to be done, Rumfoord told Billy, speaking of the destruction of Dresden I know, said Billy That s war I know I m not complaining It must have been hell on the ground It was, said Billy Pilgrim Pity the men who had to do it I do You must have had mixed feelings, there on the ground It was all right, said Billy Everything is all right, and everybody has to do exactly what he does I learned that on Tralfamadore For context, Mr Rumfoord is an old military historian described as hateful and cruel who wants to see weaklings like Billy exterminated.
On Tralfamadore, Billy was introduced to the revelation that all things happen exactly as they do, and that they will always happen that way, and that they will never happen any other way Meaning, time is all at once The aliens, incidentally, admit to destroying the universe in a comical accident fated far into the future, and they re very sorry, but so it goes passive acceptanceThe entire story up to this point has been about Billy, buffeted like a powerless pathetic leaf in a storm, pushed this way and that by forces entirely outside his tiny purview He lays catatonically in a hospital bed after the plane crash and the death of his wife, and all the time traveling back and forth from Dresden where toddlers and families and old grannies and anti war civilians were burned alive in a carefully organized inferno so it goes , and Billy is about ready to agree to absolutely anything It can t be prevented It can t be helped.
You re powerless, after a while What hope have we, or anyone caught in the middle of a war, or even the poor soldiers who are nothing but pawns and children hence the children s crusade , to influence these gigantic, global events Therefore, Billy agrees with the hateful, the cruel Mr Rumfoord, who is revising his military history of WWII, having previously forgotten to mention the Dresden bombing Women and children, not evaporated instantly, but melted slowly by chemicals and liquid flame, their leftovers, according to Billy, lying in the street like blackened logs, or in piles of families who died together in their little homes Incidentally, how can anything be pro war or anti war Because being anti war is a bit like being anti conflict, anti death, and anti suffering Is there a book that s pro these things Is there a book that touches on the subject of war and is not against it We don t support wars, though we are sometimes forced to accept them Anyone who thinks that the bombing of Dresden was necessary is delusional.
It s like saying, yo, look how they bombed these innocents that shit was wrong Let s go bomb some innocents, too That s the sad truth of it.
I miss Kurt Vonnegut.
He hasn t been gone all that long Of course he isn t gone, yet he is gone He has always been alive and he will always be dead So it goes.
Slaughterhouse five is next to impossible to explain, let alone review, but here I am And here I go.
What is it about It s about war.
It s about love and hate.
It s about post traumatic stress It s about sanity and insanity.
It s about aliens not the illegal kind, the spacey kind.
It s about life.
It s about death.
so it goes That s one thing Earthlings might learn to do, if they tried hard enough Ignore the awful times and concentrate on the good ones This is how I live my life This is how I get through the day Most days I am successful, some days I m not Today is one of the not days Like so many Americans these days, I feel I m in a rut Like so many Americans I don t understand why I am where I am This was not the plan This was not what I had in mind Oh poor me.
boo hoo This book This book got me thinking So much about life sucks, true, but not many of us want to give up on it that easy Why because of the good ones And what makes good ones is our ability to create and enjoy creating.
at least I think so Write it Shoot it Publish it Crochet it, saut it, whatever MAKE Joss WhedonIf you make something, a painting, a poem, a novel, a good meal, a person.
you continue to live even after death I think that s what Mr Vonnegut was getting at Maybe.
At least that is how he has remained alive for me.
I have to admit to being somewhat baffled by the acclaim Slaughterhouse 5 has received over the years Sure, the story is interesting It has a fascinating and mostly successful blend of tragedy and comic relief And yes, I guess the fractured structure and time travelling element must have been quite novel and original back in the day But that doesn t excuse the book s flaws, of which there are a great many in my seemingly unconventional opinion Take, for instance, Vonnegut s endless repetition of the phrase So it goes Wikipedia informs me it crops up 106 times in the book It felt like three hundred times to me About forty pages into the book, I was so fed up with the words So it goes that I felt like hurling the book across the room, something I have not done since trying to read up on French semiotics back in the 1990s I got used to coming across the words every two pages or so eventually, but I never grew to like them God, no I found some other nits to pick, too Some of them were small and trivial and frankly rather ridiculous, such as wait for it the hyphen in the book s title Seriously, what is that hyphen doing there There s no need for a hyphen there Couldn t someone have removed it, like, 437 editions ago And while I m at it, couldn t some discerning editor have done something about the monotonous quality of Vonnegut s prose about the interminable repetition of short subject verb object sentences Don t get me wrong, I m not saying all authors should use Henry James or Claire Messud length sentences Heaven forbid I m actually rather fond of minimalism, both in visual art and in writing But Vonnegut s prose is so sparse and simplistic it s monotonous rather than minimalist, to the point where I frequently found myself wishing for a run on sentence every now and then, or for an actual in depth description of something I hardly ever got either As a result, there were times when I felt like I was reading a bare bones outline of a story rather than the story itself Granted, it was an interesting outline, larded with pleasing ideas and observations, but still, I think the story could have been told in a effective way A less annoying way, too.
As for the plot, I liked it I liked the little vignettes Vonnegut came up with and the colourful characters he created the British officers being my particular favourites I liked the fact that you re never quite sure whether Billy is suffering from dementia, brain damage or some kind of delayed post traumatic stress disorder, or whether there is some actual time travelling going on I even liked the jarring switches in perspective, although I think they could have been handled in a slightly subtle manner And I liked the book s anti war message, weak and defeatist though it seemed to be In short, I liked the book, but it took some doing I hope I ll be less annoyed by the two other Vonnegut books I have sitting on my shelves, Breakfast of Champions and Cat s Cradle.