PDA

View Full Version : Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut


King_Ghidra
10-09-2002, 12:36:58
Borrowed this of a cowie and I am very very impressed.

Having always heard it mentioned alongsde the Sirens of Titan as one of Vonnegut's two major works (and having read neither myself) I was surprised when i realised how un-scfiey (if i can coin a word) it was.

For those that don't know it is the story of Billy Pilgrim, an american whose life encompasses capture in world war II and business success as an optometrist, but that is dominated by two major events - his witnessing of the aerial firebombing of dresden by the allies in 1945 (an event which was in reality witnessed by Vonnegut himself and which he had originally intended to write the novel about) and his abduction by the Alien Tralfamadorians, a race of 'time travelling' beings who do not experience time in the linear way we do.

Between these events Vonnegut writes about war, life and death, memory, family, life at home in america and abroad in europe with the greatest skill, subtletly and impact. In only 150 pages he achieves an incredible depth of understanding for the huge subjects he tries to cover, a hugely impressive characterization of the human experience and a brilliant literary achievement, all without ever falling into the trap of letting his sci fi concepts dilute the power of his writing.

A really great book.

Guy
10-09-2002, 13:43:24
I agree, this is a great piece of work. It's what made me dig deeper into Vonnegut and seek out other things he's written. I haven't read Sirens of Titan, but I do think this is near the pinnacle of his work. Very little else that he's written outside of some short stories comes close in my opinion to the level of Slaughterhouse 5.

Something I've always wondered is whether we are meant to take the sci-fi elements of this story literally or if he's trying to show that Billy has become unhinged and has invented an escapist fantasy in order to get away from the powerful flashbacks to the war that he keeps experiencing. From reading Vonnegut's other works, I would say no, we're meant to take it literally, but I think it's even more effective if Billy is just willingly crazy in order to escape the memories, especially as it's more or less autobiographical for Vonnegut himself.

The movie version of this novel was pretty well done as well, I thought.

Lady_of_Chicken
10-09-2002, 16:09:41
I'll have to look at it again now that I am old enough to appreciate it. Years ago I just plowed through it, got my B and went on my way.

Didn't Vonnegut also write Catch 22?

Guy
10-09-2002, 16:23:49
No, that was Joseph Heller.

Lady_of_Chicken
10-09-2002, 17:20:26
Ah. Thanks. Read them in the same time period.

King_Ghidra@home
10-09-2002, 18:09:49
considering the subject matter that's quite an amusing response :D

Lady_of_Chicken
10-09-2002, 22:01:26
It would be amusing to me, too, only I don't remember what I read 18 years ago. That sux.

I suppose that mean the rest of my life will be a series of re-reading everything. Oh, well, it will all be new to me. Now I know what deja vous really is. :lol:

RedFred
13-09-2002, 08:02:59
Slaughterhouse Five was a pretty good movie in its day as well. I read many of his novels more than twenty years ago but I loved his extremely cynical, dark humour.

Other Vonnegut novels I can vouch for are Breakfast of Champions, and the 'Ice 9' one... was that Sirens of Titan?

I am not generally a fan of short stories but he has written many including a couple of classics. I am not sure I remember their titles but one involved a simpler method of colonizing distant planets than the whole SMAC scenario and the other was about a socialist utopia where everyones' talents were removed to keep people totally equal.

Qweeg
13-09-2002, 13:08:45
What was the Vonny Gut title where there is Cyclical Isubstantial Infundibulum- or something, and that guy and his dog get trapped in it and immortalised forever? That was a really good Vonny Gut book, I think it was Farenheit 451 or something.

Noisy
13-09-2002, 18:29:20
:bash:

I swear you do it on purpose, Qweeg. If this is 100-0, then I'll use your Achilles Tendons to string my violin, which I'll be playing as your body burns to a crisp on the flames of a thousand lighters held aloft by Barry Manilow fans as you are suspended above them by hooks through your gonads and nipples (a la 'A Man Called Horse').

'Farenheit 451' is by Ray Bradbury, and the Vonnegut book is 'The Sirens of Titan', which RedFred talked about in the last post!

Vincent
14-09-2002, 08:22:38
Didn't he write "ulysses"?

Debaser
15-09-2002, 21:35:33
Guy wrote:
Something I've always wondered is whether we are meant to take the sci-fi elements of this story literally or if he's trying to show that Billy has become unhinged and has invented an escapist fantasy in order to get away from the powerful flashbacks to the war that he keeps experiencing.

Unaware of Vonnegut's Sci-fi background this is also how I interpreted the book. I would agree that it is very good though.

Vincent - Ulysses was by James Joyce

jsorense
15-09-2002, 22:29:23
:)
I thought it was Homer.
:D

King_Ghidra
16-09-2002, 12:09:43
Originally posted by Debaser
Vincent - Ulysses was by James Joyce

take care m8, people might think you'd been 100-nil'ed :D

monolith94
12-10-2002, 06:32:35
iirc though - there was some evidence in the book that the aliens may have been factual…
james joyce - didn't he do that book about the two eggs? west egg- east egg? That was all I remembered about that book…