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Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel (Modern Library 100 Best Novels) Paperback – January 12, 1999
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Kurt Vonnegut's absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut's) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.
Don't let the ease of reading fool you--Vonnegut's isn't a conventional, or simple, novel. He writes, "There are almost no characters in this story, and almost no dramatic confrontations, because most of the people in it are so sick, and so much the listless playthings of enormous forces. One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters..." Slaughterhouse-Five (taken from the name of the building where the POWs were held) is not only Vonnegut's most powerful book, it is as important as any written since 1945. Like Catch- 22, it fashions the author's experiences in the Second World War into an eloquent and deeply funny plea against butchery in the service of authority. Slaughterhouse-Five boasts the same imagination, humanity, and gleeful appreciation of the absurd found in Vonnegut's other works, but the book's basis in rock-hard, tragic fact gives it a unique poignancy--and humor. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
"Listen: Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time." So begins Vonnegut's absurdist 1969 classic. Hawke rises to the occasion of performing this sliced-and-diced narrative, which is part sci-fi and partially based on Vonnegut's experience as a American prisoner of war in Dresden, Germany during the firebombing of 1945 that killed thousands of civilians. Billy travels in time and space, stopping here and there throughout his life, including his long visit to the planet Tralfamador, where he is mated with a porn star. Hawke adopts a confidential, whisper-like tone for his reading. Listening to him is like listening to someone tell you a story in the back of a busthe perfect pitch for this book. After the novel ends, Vonnegut himself speaks for a short while about his survival of the Dresden firestorm and describes and names the man who inspired this story. Tacked on to the very end of this audio smorgasbord is music, a dance single that uses a vintage recording of Vonnegut reading from the book. Though Hawke's reading is excellent, one cannot help but wish Vonnegut himself had read the entire text.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
This is a quite unique book. A kind of Sci-fi that I hadn’t read before but that I really liked. Vonnegut does an excellent job mixing history with war criticism and science fiction. It seemed to me an odd combination that didn’t appeal to me at first. It’s probably because of this unlikely combination that this book is so peculiar.
It was a hard reading when I started (maybe I wasn’t in the proper mood) but then it flowed quite easy, the story absorbed me. The main character is pretty interesting: a time traveler and yet, quite a normal American. A soldier, and optometrist and a time traveler. Not the best soldier, a well-known optometrist by chance and average in every aspect but for time travel, and the fact that he was abducted by aliens. Maybe the fact that he is quite a normal guy makes relatable a tale so unrelatable.
This is a Sci-fi book yes, but I think that, more importantly this is a book about war. This book tries to portray war from the perspective of a soldier who survived and how he experienced all the horrors of war. This book reminded me slightly of Johnny Got His Gun . War is a terrible thing, and those who pay the ultimate price are young naïve soldiers and innocent victims.
The presentation challenges the reader to come to some of their own conclusions about war and human nature. This is helped along by how cold the protagonist is because he doesn't seem to have an opinion of his own.
I self-identify as a Christian and, as such, I know Mr. Vonnegut and I do not agree on matters of faith. Even so, I found the subtle commentary on scripture throughout interesting. It didn't seem like I was being chastised for my beliefs, but there were small challenges that I can sift through and consider -- which I always appreciate.
If you're looking for a book that is going to mess with your head and leave you delightfully puzzled, this one is a good fit.
Billy has another real problem though, he is unstuck in time and he travels back and forth randomly between past and future events. He sees his future life, death and struggles. He even knows how and when he will die. He is even captured by aliens and kept in a zoo for their amusement.....
This is one of Kurt Vonnegut's classic novels and it was made into a movie. The storyline jumps so much in time that the protagonist can jump 20 of more years back and forth in pages. The book is just a story of one man's life and experiences along the way but told in a very random manner. There is no real plot to the story except about the tragedy of war and human nature and how people interact.
In many ways the book is about Kurt Vonnegut's experiences during WWII and trying to describe the horror of war and the useless loss of life. He obviously abhorred what he had seen and he wanted to present his thoughts in a story. The story moves all around and changes times and themes so many times you may get lost. I believe that this was Kurt Vonnegut's way of depicting that war makes no sense.
This book is an interesting milestone is Kurt Vonnegut's career and it has been proclaimed by many to be one of the best novels of 20th century American literature. I believe you should read this and make your own decisions about it, (and so it goes!)