If you have never read “Slaughterhouse Five”, by Kurt Vonnegut, you may feel it is one of those books that you should know more about it than you do. You’ve heard of the book, some say a seminal 60’s work, and you believe it is an anti-war story but you don’t know much else. When a friend lent me a copy and I eventually got around to reading it
(it lay on a shelf for two years), it took me by surprise. Vonnegut gets much of his inspiration from his own World War II experiences, particularly from the destruction of Dresden, but this is no normal account of war.
Instead, Vonnegut’s hero, Billy Pilgrim, has the ability to travel in time and space and he flits uncontrollably between the Second World War, his work, family life and his experiences on Tralfamadore, a planet in some distant solar system, where he is held captive. This is not what I expected and it took some time for me to adapt to the “jerky” style of the novel.
“Slaughterhouse Five” is one of those books that I was not sure I was enjoying when reading, but knew I had to complete it. For me, it was the last few chapters that put it all into perspective and, looking back, I’m glad I read it. If we didn’t know it already, the book reminds us through its overarching theme, that war is a futile activity.
Did you enjoy this book and how would you rate it? Did it “make sense” to you and do you agree that the main theme is the futility of war? Let me know in the comments below.