Inder's Reviews > Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty Dance with Death

Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade by Kurt Vonnegut
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Aug 26, 11

bookshelves: 1001-books, audiobooks, fiction, 20th-century, war, germany, read-2011
Read from August 03 to 23, 2011

Vonnegut writes so damn well. The only problem with this is the way he sucks me into his super-smart but cynical and fatalistic worldview, squeezing any residual hopefulness and optimism I have (whatever survived Cat's Cradle , that is) out of me until I practically squeal "Uncle!"

Here's what I learned from this book: War is worse than terrible. War is utter nonsense. People are really stupid. There's probably not much hope for the human race. The best we can do is to try to enjoy the good moments when they come, which might not be very often.

Uncle!

But then there are these hilarious one-liners and just transcendent moments: For example, a documentary about bombers, seen backwards through the eyes of Billy Pilgrim, who is "unstuck in time." Without quoting the whole section (but see it in my favorite quotes, below), let's just say this passage left me gasping for air.

I still feel like total crap, mind you. But you have to admit: Vonnegut writes so damn well.
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Quotes Inder Liked

Kurt Vonnegut
“It was a movie about American bombers in World War II and the gallant men who flew them. Seen backwards by Billy, the story went like this: American planes, full of holes and wounded men and corpses took off backwards from an airfield in England. Over France, a few German fighter planes flew at them backwards, sucked bullets and shell fragments from some of the planes and crewmen. They did the same for wrecked American bombers on the ground, and those planes flew up backwards to join the formation.
The formation flew backwards over a German city that was in flames. The bombers opened their bomb bay doors, exerted a miraculous magnetism which shrunk the fires, gathered them into cylindrical steel containers , and lifted the containers into the bellies of the planes. The containers were stored neatly in racks. The Germans below had miraculous devices of their own, which were long steel tubes. They used them to suck more fragments from the crewmen and planes. But there were still a few wounded Americans though and some of the bombers were in bad repair. Over France though, German fighters came up again, made everything and everybody as good as new.
When the bombers got back to their base, the steel cylinders were taken from the racks and shipped back to the United States of America, where factories were operating night and day, dismantling the cylinders, separating the dangerous contents into minerals. Touchingly, it was mainly women who did this work. The minerals were then shipped to specialists in remote areas. It was their business to put them into the ground, to hide them cleverly, so they would never hurt anybody ever again. The American fliers turned in their uniforms, became high school kids. And Hitler turned into a baby.”
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five


Reading Progress

08/09/2011
10.0%
08/11/2011
35.0% "The "so it goes" are relentless."
08/24/2011
85.0% "As usual, I feel a bit beaten down by Vonnegut. I get it! Life is meaningless! War is horrible! There is no God! UNCLE!"
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