What Kurt Vonnegut set out to do was write a book about war, and in particular the firebombing of Dresden in World War II. What he ended up doing was writing clean around it — traveling in and out of time warps, bouncing on and off the earth, sometimes setting down on the planet Tralfamadore, millions of miles away from Dresden and millions of miles away from war. What he created was a masterpiece of satire in which every crazy, clever moment, every whimsical line, no matter how deceptively light, is imbued with the sorrow and the starkness of the atrocity Vonnegut himself witnessed in that very real war. Recommended By Gigi L., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Kurt Vonnegut's absurdist classic Slaughterhouse-Five
introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes 'unstuck in time' after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his (and Vonnegut's) shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.
Slaughterhouse-Five is not only Vonnegut's most powerful book, it is also as important as any written since 1945. Like Catch-22, it fashions the author's experiences in the Second World War into an eloquent and deeply funny plea against butchery in the service of authority. Slaughterhouse-Five boasts the same imagination, humanity, and gleeful appreciation of the absurd found in Vonnegut's other works, but the book's basis in rock-hard, tragic fact gives it unique poignancy — and humor.
"Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. has written one of the major novels of the year....Haunting....Irresistible reading....Poignant and hilarious, threaded with compassion and, behind everything, the cataract of a thundering moral statement." Boston Globe
"Highly imaginative, nearly psychedelic....It is very tough and very funny; it is sad and delightful; it is very Vonnegut; and it works." The New York Times
"Splendid art and simplicity....Nerve-racking control....A funny book at which you are not permitted to laugh, a sad book without tears, a tale told in a slaughterhouse." Life magazine
"What I...applaud is the marvelous comic scenes with the British prisoners of war; the control in the war scenes; the understated bitterness with which he handles the American soldiers....When Vonnegut stops preaching and is funny, I take him very seriously." Daniel Stern, Washington Post Book World
"Serious critics have shown some reluctance to acknowledge that Vonnegut is among the best writers of his generation. He is, I suspect, both too funny and too intelligent for many, who confused muddled earnestness with profundity. Vonnegut is not confused. He sees all too clearly....Only Billy's time-warped perspective could do justice to the cosmic absurdity of his life, which is Vonnegut's life and our lives." Robert Scholes, New York Times Book Review
Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the worlds great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrims odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we fear most.
About the Author
Kurt Vonnegut was a master of contemporary American literature. His black humor, satiric voice, and incomparable imagination first captured America's attention in The Sirens of Titan in 1959 and established him as "a true artist" with Cat's Cradle in 1963. He was, as Graham Greene declared, "one of the best living American writers." Mr. Vonnegut passed away in April 2007.