‘Slaughterhouse Five’ by Kurt Vonnegut ****

I feel, after finishing Slaughterhouse Five, that I should have started reading Vonnegut’s work a long while ago.  For me, the premise of this novel is a wonderful one, and its standing within the canon of American literature made it seem like a good book of Vonnegut’s to begin with.

The storyline in Slaughterhouse Five is an amalgamation of the events in Dresden during the Second World War, the life of protagonist Billy Pilgrim, and the somewhat bizarre customs of another planet, Tralfamadore, on which Pilgrim finds himself during his bouts of time travel.  I liked the way in which the threads of all of these different stories were pulled together through a series of scenes and small vignettes, and the entirety was told in such an engaging manner.

“Listen:
Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.
Billy has gone to sleep a senile widower and awakened on his wedding day.  He has walked through a door in 1955 and come out another one in 1941.  He has gone back through that door to find himself in 1963…
Billy is spastic in time, has no control over where he is going next, and the trips aren’t necessarily fun.  He is in a constant state of stage fright, he says, because he never knows what part of his life he is going to have to act in next.”

Vonnegut is rather clever in Slaughterhouse Five.  The story is both historically grounded and suspended in a sense of non-time.  The structure which the author has used is interesting.  The time periods in question jump all over the place, but it somehow still flows marvellously.  Overall, Slaughterhouse Five is an odd novel in many respects, but it is so very difficult to put down.

Suggested accompanying playlist:
1. ‘Deathbeds’ by Bring Me the Horizon
2. ‘Trouble is Temporary, Time is Tonic’ by We Are The Ocean
3. ‘Time Turned Fragile’ by Motion City Soundtrack

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