Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

November 24, 2010 at 23:27 (Book Reviews, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mediocre Books) (, , , , , )


As a great anti-war book, Slaughterhouse-Five really isn’t all that it might have been, and the martial themes disappear somewhat behind the insanity and the shuddering frame of reference. As a great piece of science fiction, Vonnegut’s style is a little too abrupt and curt (no pun int…eh, forget it) for the casual reader to really connect ably with his ideas about space and time and the human experience, and how these are important and interconnected. Too brief and flippant to really explore its themes securely.

As a metanarrative, Slaughterhouse-Five succeeds, and makes itself incredibly pompous in the process. As an experiment in what make a story an experience, and what makes an experience a lesson, Slaughterhouse-Five winds up as a good book, but one that leaves the reader with the slightly uneasy and rebellious feeling that he has been severely lectured throughout the whole thing.

Perhaps this should be simply viewed as an interesting story, with all its themes and weighty conundrums and reflective ideas tucked away somewhere else. Let us enjoy Slaughterhouse-Five as a book, and nothing else. And so it becomes just a story: a little depressing, a germ of wistful longing, and light and short reading; not bad, and not particularly brilliant, either.


1 Comment

  1. David said,

    It’s refreshing to read this, as I sometimes feel I’m the only person to be disgusted (or at least utterly unimpressed) by Slaughterhouse-Five. It seemed to proclaim that heroism and morality are all false, and that because war contains horrific things, therefore the Allies were wrong to fight the Nazis. Among other things. Maybe I missed the point, even when my entire university class and professor were defending it as something great, but I’m not even sure it works as a decent story. There are flashes of wit here and there, but it seems sorely misapplied. I did feel lectured and looked-down-upon by Vonnegut, and it has not inspired me to read anything else by him.

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