Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The book that had me saying “wtf?” in a good way from the get-go. The first chapter is like The Princess Bride in that it sets up what I believe is a fictionalization of the author, but not as a forward or introduction – as the first chapter. So for the first few pages I have no idea what’s going on. Once I get it, it’s pretty interesting – especially given the title page and the fact that, apparently, this is officially Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children’s Crusade.
After that it jumps into Billy Pilgrim’s story and that’s got a mix of a Catch-22 and Hitchhiker’s Guide vibe. It’s incredibly sarcastic and full of dark humor as we bounce around Billy Pilgrim’s life. The craziest part is the way in which it is a science fiction novel. Originally, I’d never read the book because I just thought it was about World War II. And, in a lot of ways it is. But both in the way Billy is bouncing through time and the other more “foreign” plot, it is also an SF novel.
Speaking of the bouncing around – frankly I’m surprised that Christopher Nolan hasn’t made this into a move or a TV show. It seems right up his alley. Maybe it’s what originally inspired him to be so focused on out of sync narratives.
Anyway, this is turning into a partial ramble and all you need to know is that if you have somehow avoided this book (like I did until now), you need to rectify that and read this book. (At least if you’re into the writing styles mentioned above)
I forgot I’d wanted to mention this in my original review: (view spoiler)[ What are we supposed to think about Billy Pilgrim and the aliens? Did he go there or not? A couple things suggest he didn’t: the aliens look like aliens described in the SF book his friend is reading in the mental hospital. The zoo aspect is also from another of that guy’s SF books. Finally, it’s very odd that the actress’ locket has the serenity prayer on it. I think we’re supposed to believe that the time travel is happening because of the way it’s affecting him, but what do you guys think when it comes to the aliens? (hide spoiler)]
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