Boxall's 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die discussion

Slaughterhouse-Five
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Specific List Books > Slaughterhouse Five-Kurt Vonnegut

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Lisa James (sthwnd) | 352 comments Hi Everyone, I started this book a few days ago. Was wondering if anyone else had trouble getting through it? The way it bounces around through Billy's hallucinations/insane periods can be hard to follow, & a little unsettling. I am only managing about 20 pages at a sitting before I have to put it down & walk away. Honestly, I have NO idea why this book even MADE the original list....


Ana-Maria Bujor (marabujor) I think it was one of the best books I've read. Absolutely brilliant perspective on war and life and everything. Stick to it as it will all make sense quite quickly. I did not have too many troubles because I read it after "house of leafs" which was way tougher and weirder. Good luck!


Ellie (elliearcher) Me too, Ana-Maria-on Slaughterhouse-Five's brilliance and on how books like the Vonnegut became relatively easy after House of Leaves! Of course, it's the kind of book I'm drawn to anyway.


message 4: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy Neftzger (neftzger) | 28 comments I'm a huge Vonnegut fan. However, I didn't start with Slaughterhouse Five. Maybe it would help to try one of his other books before tackling this one?


Beth | 2 comments I'm also a big fan of Kurt Vonnegut, but I didn't love Slaughterhouse-Five as much as I loved his other books. I would suggest Cat's Cradle as a first, and then go from there. Happy reading!!


Alicia I just finished this book, actually and also found it hard to follow, like Lisa. This is honestly one of the books I wish I had read in English class, just so I could unpack it and actually understand all the imagery, etc. I feel like for just a casual read, I wasn't getting all it had to offer me. I have Cat's Cradle though, so I'll take Bethjeanne's suggestion and try that one next!


message 7: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy Neftzger (neftzger) | 28 comments Cat's Cradle is a good one. He's also written some short stories that may be easier to digest - check out Welcome to the Monkey House for some of those.


message 8: by JC (new) - rated it 4 stars

JC (jmnc) I listened to it on audio and that helped a lot.


Bill (kernos) Alicia wrote: "I just finished this book, actually and also found it hard to follow, like Lisa. This is honestly one of the books I wish I had read in English class, just so I could unpack it and actually underst..."

Now you know how Billy Pilgrim felt ;-)


message 10: by Chel (new) - rated it 4 stars

Chel | 376 comments Amy wrote: "I'm a huge Vonnegut fan. However, I didn't start with Slaughterhouse Five. Maybe it would help to try one of his other books before tackling this one?"
Just jump right in. You'll love it. The jumping around is Billy's confused mind. This is one of my favorites. At one point he even "looks at the reader" and jumps out of character and addresses you! It's just great and not too difficult of a read, in my opinion.


message 11: by Lisa (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lisa James (sthwnd) | 352 comments You all that said stick with it were right. It became easier when I got how Billy's mind worked. I'm still not fond of "war" books, so I still didn't really enjoy it, but given the fact that it's been a staple for so long, I am glad I read it, & even more glad I can cross it off the list! LOL.


Inder | 82 comments I found it to be quite depressing (the stupidity of the human race! gah!), but Vonnegut is so brilliant and clever. The backwards movie segment left me gasping for air, it was so beautiful and heartbreaking.

Cat's Cradle is, if anything, even more perfectly conceived. It also put me in a bad mood for a week. Vonnegut's world view is dark and fatalistic sometimes, but Lord, the man could write.


Denae (whimsicalmeerkat) that he could


message 14: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy Neftzger (neftzger) | 28 comments Definitely one of my favorite writers.


Megan | 2 comments I just finished Slaughterhouse-5 and I really liked it. It was a different perspective on war, especially WWII, that I've ever read. My grandfathers were veterans so I only heard the glorified version of WWII. Also, after multiple history classes in high school and college I had never really heard about the bombing of Dresden.


message 16: by Chel (new) - rated it 4 stars

Chel | 376 comments Megan wrote: "I just finished Slaughterhouse-5 and I really liked it. It was a different perspective on war, especially WWII, that I've ever read. My grandfathers were veterans so I only heard the glorified vers..."

That's a good point and it wasn't covered much in my history class also.


Deanne | 682 comments Those who win wars tend to be the ones who write the official version.
Both my grandads were in the war, one in India and the other in Egypt and Holland. The one I knew never talked about it much, my grandmother's were both full of stories.


message 18: by Chel (new) - rated it 4 stars

Chel | 376 comments I just love this book!


message 19: by P. (new) - rated it 5 stars

P. (shimizusan) | 96 comments Ellie wrote: "Me too, Ana-Maria-on Slaughterhouse-Five's brilliance and on how books like the Vonnegut became relatively easy after House of Leaves! Of course, it's the kind of book I'm ..."

Totally agree. House of Leaves was real 'brain pain'. I loved it. So 'Slaughterhouse 5' was nothing, I just breezed through it.


message 20: by P. (new) - rated it 5 stars

P. (shimizusan) | 96 comments Inder wrote: "I found it to be quite depressing (the stupidity of the human race! gah!), but Vonnegut is so brilliant and clever. The backwards movie segment left me gasping for air, it was so beautiful and hear..."

'Cat's Cradle' was such a gem. I'm so glad I read it. Bokononism made me laugh a lot.


message 21: by Nola (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nola Tillman (scottiegazelle) | 26 comments I've found that taking notes helps me through more complicated books. Maybe it's because, once upon a time, I was an English major. But I grabbed a spiral notebook for my 1001 books just to jot down thoughts and impressions as I read, and keep them all in one place.


Kristen (manoskm) Pretty big Vonnegut fan, but didn't like Slaughterhouse Five much at all. I didn't have any trouble switching from one time/place to another, so in that sense it was an easy book. I just...didn't like it. It felt like it could have been...more. I don't know how to describe it. He and I didn't click on this one. Much preferred Cat's Cradle. When I finished that one, my immediate instinct was to pick it up and read it again.


Cecily | 27 comments It certainly has an unusual narrative style, but Vonnegut often does. I find you just have to go with his flow and then the light dawns and it all pays off. Maybe it would help if you compare it with less obvious alternatives, such as The Time Traveler's Wife and Time's Arrow?

And if you think this is odd, consider his Galápagos. Although fundamentally chronological, it has an enormous number of tiny jumps ahead and so many snippets about what will happen to everyone, why and how, that you don’t know if there will be anything left by the time the main narrative catches up. He even prefixes the names of those about to die with an asterisk!


Stephanie "Jedigal" (jedigal) | 271 comments He's a favorit author of mine, but this is not my favorite Vonnegut either. I think with this one, my objection was feeling SOMEHWAT turned off by the lightness of tone compared to the subject matter. All the seriousness (which is of course clearly present) is below the surface. It's typical of V, but in this one case, it didn't work as well FOR ME as in some of his other titles. Of course, I still positively about it. Nothing less than 3* for Vonnegut so far.


message 25: by Nola (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nola Tillman (scottiegazelle) | 26 comments The danger in dealing with a serious subject, I think, is that it is too easy to become *too* serious, and thus turn your audience away from it. Vonnegut's tone does well, I think, to capture the madness of a man who witnessed such an atrocity. By avoiding a somber tone, he invites readers to come to their own conclusions; indeed, I think his tone acts as a foil to the subject matter.


Stephanie "Jedigal" (jedigal) | 271 comments Nola wrote: "The danger in dealing with a serious subject, I think, is that it is too easy to become *too* serious, and thus turn your audience away from it. Vonnegut's tone does well, I think,..."

I hear what you're saying, and certainly agree in theory. In practice, for me, this time I didn't react well to it, although often I appreciate the strategy. :o)


message 27: by Alex (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alex (joggler) | 2 comments I really liked this book. Wasn't too difficult to follow once I got used to the style.

The blurring between the lines of fantasy and reality, past, present, and future fascinated me.

(view spoiler)


message 28: by Steven (new)

Steven (steven_hardesty) When I first read Slaughterhouse Five, I was angry that Vonnegut wouldn't just come out and say what had happened to him in World War II. Why did he have the story spin in so many circles? Why was Billy Pilgrim so hapless and hopeless? Then I went to my own war. When I came back and re-read the book, it was perfectly clear. Going to war to understand Vonnegut is nothing I would recommend, but it is very Vonnegut, isn't it?


message 29: by Mark (new)

Mark Vickers | 5 comments Steven wrote: "When I first read Slaughterhouse Five, I was angry that Vonnegut wouldn't just come out and say what had happened to him in World War II. Why did he have the story spin in so many circles? Why wa..."

I think you've given Vonnegut the highest praise possible, Steven. I've read that he had a very tough time writing about his Dresden experiences until he figured out this format.


Hrishabh Chaudhary (hrishabhchaudhary) Slaughterhouse 5 is one of my top favorite books of all time. I didn't find it confusing at all, although it jumps in time and space, but you get the order right, easily.
If you want to know what is confusing then read Catch22.
I guess both books were deliberately written that way to symbolize the absurdity of war.


Alana (alanasbooks) | 124 comments I read it recently for an in-person book club and unpacking it with them really brought it to life better for me. Finding the one timeline that went in chronological order (the wartimes scenes) and realizing he's describing how his mind is cracking (all the time jumping around) just put it all together for me. At first I wasn't sure what I thought about it, but by the end, I realized how brilliant it was. Excellent book.


Kristiyan Zheynov | 1 comments Everybody can learn a lot by Kurt Vonnegut! Not just by the books, the interviews also. Slaughterhouse five is brilliant book - funny, easy to read, and in the same time you understand how deep is this book. My english is not very good and I am sorry.

So it goes


message 33: by Emily (new)

Emily (purpleemily) | 40 comments William wrote: "I don't usually laugh when reading books (except a few occasions) and I didn't really laugh while reading Slaughterhouse-Five, which is really depressing when you think about it. I thought it was e..."

I agree Catch 22 can be confusing, but all the jumping around is meant to match the chaos of war. I thought Catch 22 was much better than Slaughterhouse Five, but I did enjoy both.


message 34: by Kayla (new) - added it

Kayla Tocco (kaylatocco) | 107 comments I don't find the jumping around to be confusing, I've always been really good with that sort of thing, I'm about halfway through and I'm finding I'm having a harder time finding the "deeper meaning" and not just reading it for the story it is on the surface. Did anyone else have this difficulty? If so, do you have any suggestions?


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