Jeffery Moulton's Reviews > Slaughterhouse-Five

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
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Dec 08, 11

bookshelves: 2011-books, philosophy, science-fiction
Read from December 01 to 08, 2011, read count: 1

Slaughterhouse-Five is a very difficult book to review or even classify. As a book, it is a confused, jumbled mess. The plot is... well, it's hard to figure out the plot, to be honest. The characters are often unlikable. The concept is absurd. The genre is impossible to pin down (is it science fiction? philosophy? comedy? drama? something completely new?). And the storytelling is all over the place. But the interesting thing is that the mess that is Slaughterhouse-Five is also profound, thought-provoking, sometimes humorous, sometimes dramatic, and always absolutely riveting. It is one of the most fascinating books I've read in a long time and grabbed my attention from the very beginning.

Describing the book is next to impossible. Suffice it to say that it is about a man named Billy Pilgrim who is "unstuck in time." This means that he lives his life out of order, sometimes in one time and sometimes in another. At some point along the way, he serves in WWII, is captured by Germans and survives the bombing of Dresden, which is (I had to look this up) considered one of the most pointless bombings ever conducted in wartime because Dresden held no strategic advantage. Also, along the way of living his jumbled life, Billy Pilgrim is kidnapped by aliens who put him in a zoo and have him mate with a kidnapped movie star named Montana Wildhack.

See what I mean? It sounds ludicrous at best! But that is something of the point with this book. The insanity is there to both obscure and highlight the book's message. The author calls the book an "anti-war" book, and I think he is right. But it isn't like other anti-war stuff. It takes a very different view. It looks at war as pointless, not because of all the life lost, but because it doesn't make any difference if you kill anyone or not. They still live in time.

That was the concept that drew me in most--the idea of living in time. According to the book, every moment is already structured. We live now and forever because we live in the moment. The best we can do is to make sure that we live most in the good moments. War makes no sense because you can't kill people, not really. They live in the past and will always live in the past. As the author says (again and again and again), "so it goes."

I don't buy into all of the author's philosophy. It is too fatalistic for me, insisting that we can't change anything, not even the end of the universe, even if we know what will cause that end. I believe more in free will. Maybe that is naive, but so it goes.

The thing is that I don't have to believe in the author's philosophy. I enjoyed the mental exercises this book put me through. I enjoyed reading another viewpoint and exploring the possibilities. I enjoyed the quirky prose and well-written sequences. And I enjoyed just thinking about new ideas and concepts. For me, all of that made this book one of the best and most interesting books I have read in the last few years.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a good book that will make them think. And through it all, maybe, just maybe, the book will help them appreciate the good moments in life a bit more before we all go when the Tralfamadorian pilot presses a button on the new kind of time warp engine that wipes out the universe.

So it goes.
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Mohammed Mokhallalati I will definitely read it.


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