Saturday, May 21, 2011
A masterpiece. I do not often use such language for two main reasons: (a) I rarely think a work deserves such a descriptor, and (b) I believe managing expectations is key to enjoying experiences, so I don’t like to raise them too high. Yet, I think Slaughterhouse-Five deserves it. I’m a huge Vonnegut fan and I’ve often thought that I was drawn more to his ideological bent and observations than his prose. In this work, he excels in both domains. The writing is still his simple style, but the flow of the work, as well as the frequency of interesting situations or quotable lines, brings a richness and sophistication beyond most of his books. For example, chapter five has something noteworthy on almost every page.
I realize I have gone this far in the review without even describing the basic plot, as I had inadvertently assumed that you have either heard of it or already read the novel. In short, it is about the fire-bombing of Dresden, Germany in WWII and the absurdity of war. Beyond that, I would say it is about perspective and appreciating moments as they happen. I shan't say more about the story to avoid spoiling the experience, but I will say that I have a minor structural/presentation issue: the first chapter should be labelled 'preface.'
Vonnegut fans will enjoy seeing some usual suspects appear (Trout, Rosewater, W. Campbell Jr.) and any reader will find it hard not to adopt the refrain of “So it goes.”
There is a reason this book is taught in schools.