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I've read Slaughterhouse-Five several times and I'm still not sure I know exactly how Vonnegut pulls it off. It is primarily a postmodern, anti-war novel. It is an absurd look at war, memory, time, and humanity, but it is also gentle. Its prose emotionally feels (go ahead, pet the emotion) like the tug of the tides, the heaviness of sleep, the seduction of alcohol, the dizziness of love. His prose is simple, but beautiful.
Obviously, part of the brilliance of this novel is born from the reality that Vonnegut is largely playing the notes of his own song (obviously, obscured by an unreliable narrator, time that is unstuck, and generous kidnapping aliens). It is the song of someone who has seen horrible, horrible things but still wants to dance and smile (so a Totentanz?).
Emperor, your sword won't help you out
Sceptre and crown are worthless here
I've taken you by the hand
For you must come to my dance
I had to work very much and very hard
The sweat was running down my skin
I'd like to escape death nonetheless
But here I won't have any luck
It is essentially art pulled out of the tension between despair and hope, grief and celebration, love and death. It is a classic not because it has a message about war, but because it has a message about life. Vonnegut aimed at war and hit everything.
59 of 64 people found this review helpful
I have read this book three times and listened to Ethan Hawke read on CD twice.
James Franco adds an incredible voice to this classic anti-war novel with its disjointed chronology. He is deadpan and on the mark, giving the satire room to breathe.
As for the novel, I was forced to read it in high school and reluctantly fell in love the shambling WWII vet Billy Pilgrim.
He flops between time periods like an awkward flamingo, makes a living as a bored optometrist, makes love to his giant of a wife and infuriates his daughter with tales of alien abduction. And what middle-ager wouldn't want to be abducted if his co-abductee were a bosomy porn star?
There's also an extraterrestrial zoo.
Vonnegut has written a masterpiece.
15 of 16 people found this review helpful
Genuinely an amazing peice of work. Listened to it one sitting and only felt disappointed that it had to end so soon. So it goes.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
I totally loved it. book is great and Franco is class as per usual. Hopefully he does more.
10 of 12 people found this review helpful
I thought James Franco's voice and readiig style suited this book perfectly. An interesting and engaging alternative treatment to the topic of war , especially those who survive it.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Slaughterhouse Five has always been lauded as a classic of 1960’s writing, and yet I’d never gotten around to reading it. I have now ... and it IS indeed a classic. Billy Pilgrim is a hero, a laconic time-traveller, an unreliable narrator, but a man to be listened to. I’m very glad I got to this book before I die ... and so it goes.