Slaughterhouse-Five belongs to my shelf of complex books. It was difficult reading it when I started so I had to condition my mind for it. I later find it more confusing as it jumps back and forth in time. The concept of time-travel isn’t new to me but it confused me just the same. So I tried to read it slower than my usual pace when reading and went back to a few pages now and then or re-read passages several times over until I somehow fully understand (or thought understand).
The book depicts the story of the bombing of Dresden in World War II. The idea to write this antiwar book came partly from Vonnegut’s experiences during the war. Both the first and last chapters were written from Vonnegut’s perspective.
The story’s protagonist is Billy Pilgrim. He was taken as a prisoner of war in World War II and his life back as a civilian was shaped by post-traumatic stress disorder. He experiences flashbacks of the war and suffers from hallucinations as well so he was sent to a mental institution for some time for he was certain he was abducted by aliens where talks of free will came up.
The bombing of Dresden created a firestorm that destroyed a huge part of the city and killed thousands. Historians though, found it hard to recount the horrors that happened so the author created a fictional narrative to help and understand what took place.
Vonnegut is a great writer and Slaughterhouse-Five is an interesting book. Satirical, sad, poignant, disturbing at times. It isn’t something I’d read for pleasure and I’m actually not a fan of sci-fi books but it is a story about war, a topic I like reading the most. Whether a just war is possible or not, it is heartbreaking to know its effects to human condition.
“And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.”
“How nice — to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive.”
“That’s one thing Earthlings might learn to do, if they tried hard enough: Ignore the awful times and concentrate on the good ones.”
“It is just an illusion here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone, it is gone forever.”
“If I am going to spend eternity visiting this moment and that, I’m grateful that so many of those moments are nice.”
Rating: 4/5 stars