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on 27 April 2017
Astonishing tour de force of despair really. It is about life and death at a very profound level, but written in such a simple way. The Dresden firestorm in WWII is described deadpan, and thus so much more effectively than with drama. The central character is Everyman, stuck in an impossible situation where he seems helpless to escape - and yet he does, either in a dream or in reality, when he is abducted by aliens. I would never call this science fiction. It is much more the study of one man's psychology, his escape and his denial of his reality, which ranges from utterly banal to absolute horror. Vonnegut himself seems to have been the most compassionate of men, and this sings through. I have to say, soon after I finished reading it, I saw a glorious pair of silver boots in a sale reduced from £120 to £7 and bought them, so influenced was my mind by Slaughterhouse Five.
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on 20 August 2017
4/5 • I’ve read a handful of other Vonnegut novels but for some reason it’s taken me years to get around to reading his most celebrated work. Perhaps I was afraid of being disappointed; I’m still not sure if, on the whole, I like his work. SLAUGHTERHOUSE 5 is typical Vonnegut, and it displays all of his trademark idiosyncrasies and annoyances. Vonnegut writes in a strangely naive fashion. There’s nothing clever about his prose and his attempts at humour are often dire. He also uses repetition too often for my tastes. And yet despite these flaws SLAUGHTERHOUSE 5 is a very poignant book. Whether or not it should be considered as anti-war is debateable but it certainly exposes the futility of war. There’s little in the way of plot or characterisation but in this instance it doesn’t seem to matter: Vonnegut succeeds in eliciting a deeply felt response to the plight of Billy and his fellow POWs regardless. This is a simple little book, despite all the aliens and time travel shenanigans, but it succeeds in punching well above its weight.
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on 5 September 2013
Billy Pilgrim, the protagonist of novel, became a sort of cult figure in American popular culture, and it's not difficult to see why. Slaughterhouse-five is a war novel with a twist. It rather cleverly, and in a deliberately obvious, self-conscious manner, disguises itself as a science-fiction piece about time travel and aliens. Framed by a narrator who is a war veteran, he embarks on writing an account of his experiences in WW2 when he was a POW in Dresden, Germany.

The novel that he writes turns out to be about Billy Pilgrim, a war vet like himself, but Dresden becomes just an episode within his narrative about his experiences as a time-traveller. The shift of focus suggests that the brutality of the war experience is too harsh and horrific to be addressed head-on and that it needs to be looked at sideways, mediated by a layered narrative.

Seemingly farcical, born-loser Billy is something of a joke in the army, and his position is non-combat and perfunctory. Death recurs in the novel, and as a way of cushioning the blow, the narrator always appends any mention of it with "and so it goes".

Vonnegut has a distinctive style of writing that is disjointed and episodic, which is filmic in quality, akin to the way a scene fades out to the next. Perhaps this style is also in keeping with the story of a man who becomes "unstuck in time" and begins to view life not as a continuum, and death not as an end, but rather as moments which, when chronology is taken away, causes the finality of circumstances to lose their significance, which also takes away the sting of hopeless events in one's life.

Humorous despite the gravity of the issues dealt with in the novel, Vonnegut manages to adopt an authorial perspective that is neither prescriptive nor heavy-handed, allowing him to speak truthfully about the pain of human suffering without the melodrama.
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on 17 March 2017
I thought I would give this a go as it was reduced recently but I am really struggling to get into it. Im up to chapter four but its been hard going rather than a book that you cant wait to pick up again. I guess its just is not for me. I find it slightly bizzarre.
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on 8 August 2017
An excellent anti-war novel that I would not hesitate to recommend. Won't give any of the plot away but it comments on the futility and stupidity of it all. Has made me want to seek out more of the authors work.
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on 12 April 2017
This book was an absolute joy to read despite it's at times quite difficult subject matter.
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on 11 August 2015
The book which made me realise how special Kurt Vonnegut was. I have read it twice and it still amazes me. There are some incredible lines. Deep themes. Powerful descriptions of tragedies. All with Vonnegut's trademark humorous undertone. How I wish I could write like this man.
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on 5 July 2017
Stop everything you are doing, buy this book and start reading. Now.
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on 14 August 2017
Took me about halfway to get really into it. I'm used to modern writting so that's my excuse. The story is indeed really interesting and I will have to reread it sometime to suck it all in. My first experience was mediocre, but having finished it I know it will be better the second time because of it.
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on 12 May 2016
As a new avid reader, having this book recommended by an English teacher was a true joy to read. This book handles time travel very well, coming into this book I was expecting it to be hard to follow, but truly it felt perfect. The humor is exceptional and a must read.
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