Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Review:: Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

Title: Slaughterhouse-Five
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Format: Kindle
Rating: ★★★★☆

They say Kurt Vonnegut is a love him or hate him kind of author, and I have to admit that while I haven't extensively read him, I fall into the former category. Last time I read Slaughterhouse-Five I was in high school, but I didn't read it for high school. Coming back to it as an adult, it wasn't like I remembered at all (I remembered it being more like Catch-22), but it was a delight to read.

Well, maybe delight is the wrong word.

Slaughterhouse-Five is rife with dark humor, irony, and absurity—all things I like! It's like a long rush down a tunnel, where you know the end isn't going to be pretty, but you still want to ride it out. This is the kind of work the term speculative fiction was created for; it's not quite science fiction, but it's not quite mainstream fiction either.

Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time. Notably, Billy Pilgrim was a POW of the Germans during WWII and in Dresden during the bombing. But as much as the book is about the bombing of Dresden and Billy Pilgrim, that's not really what it's about. There's a reason that the subtitle of the book is The Children's Crusade; what we see here is humanizing the normally faceless soldiers that go into battle and watching them fight the absurdity of a terrible situation.

It's easy to overlook the trauma the reality of war leaves on people when it's for a "just" cause. Less so now, when we openly deal with the fact that our veterans come home with PTSD or, at the very least, changed. But it's works like these that open up those conversations, art that speaks.

Anyway, I'm glad I picked this book back up again as an adult. Sometimes, it's good to reread something like this.

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