Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (read December 24, 2015)
A sort of story within a story, Vonnegut begins Slaughterhouse Five, also known as The Children’s Crusade, by telling the reader about his involvement with Dresden, how he went back, the effect the war had on his friends and him, and how this book came to be. After this first chapter, he dives into the story of Billy Pilgrim, who shares many experiences with Vonnegut. He was in World War II, was captured, and was in Dresden during its bombing. However, Billy has the tendency to time travel, and was also captured by a race of aliens from the planet of Tralfamador. The book covers a large span of Billy’s life, with the anchor in his time in Europe during the war.
This was my first Vonnegut, which I figured was a good choice since it’s so popular. The writing style is very easy to read, with a conversational lexicon and straightforward approach. As Billy is “unstuck in time,” the plot can lack a chronological element, but it isn’t confusing, and is surprisingly natural.
The novel presents an interesting theory on time. The Tralfamadorians possess the unique ability to view the world in a fourth dimension: time. Upon seeing something, they do not see it in its “present” state, but rather as its entire journey through time or its life. A Tralfamadorian sees an entire timeline, as opposed to a moment. Vonnegut proposes that the past, the present, and the future are fixed, and cannot be changed, no matter what we think. This idea is reinforced by Billy’s travels, in that nothing he does changes what happens.
I really enjoyed this book, and have already started another book of his. If you haven’t read any books by Kurt Vonnegut, I’d highly recommend this one.
Rating: 5 out of 5