Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Book Review : Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut**

In my auto didactic quest to become better read, especially in the sphere of classic literature, I have so far come across some novels which are quite wonderful, Brave New World / Moby Dick / The Red Badge Of Courage, some which I didn't enjoy quite as much but did persevere with, Candide / The Accidental / The Great Gatsby, and then one or two that despite being widely regarded as pinnacles of style or content I personally did not enjoy one little bit, and that includes Kerouac's On The Road and Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5.

If you havn't read the book, S5 is a partly autobiographical account of Vonnegut's time as a POW in Dresden told through the eyes of the character Billy Pilgrim, the hopeless American who has come unstuck in time and now experiences his life in small segments in no chronological order. In addition, he has also been kidnapped by an alien race, the Tralfamadorians, and made to live and breed with another kidnap victim, a porn model Montana Wildhack.

The novel explores the nature of fate and free will, but in an indistinct and revelation free style. I found the chop and change nature of the novel hard work not because of the sci-fi time travelling element (which has been done much better in other books, The Time Traveller's Wife for one) but because Vonnegut's style of writing, much like reporting factually for a newspaper, leaves little room for flair and description. Vonnegut also employs the refrain 'so it goes' continually throughout the novel to emphasize fate and the lack of choice, it might work, but it isn't subtle and I found it quite distracting after about the 50th repetition.

Oh well, on with the reading list, Call Of The Wild next.....

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