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Topic: Slaughterhouse Five

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Subject: Slaughterhouse Five
Date Posted: 1/18/2013 3:28 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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The first time I read Slaughterhouse Five my reaction was "meh, that was odd."  But since then I somehow keep coming back to it.  I've read it four or five times now and everytime I can't quite decide what to make of it.  It fascinates me, but I have no idea why.  While I'm reading it my feelings about it never seem very strong one way or another but after I've finished I keep thinking about Billy Pilgrim for weeks.

I've never had a class or discussion about it, and I almost would prefer not to analyze it to death.  But I was wondering if anyone else here had read it and what your opinions might be?

Date Posted: 1/31/2013 6:47 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
Posts: 826
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I listened to the audio version for the first time a couple of years ago.  My reaction was bemused, amused and a bit confused.  I told myself I should go back and read the book in print someday -- but I've been too busy reading his other books to ever do so.  The majority of his work (at least the novels I've read so far) has very similar themes - the horror of war and what men do because of it, fate, free will, absurdity.

I love his cynical sense of humor and I like that his humor has a point to it -- that he's trying to make you think as you're laughing. (Though my favorite books by him are the ones where the humor is understated.)
I'm not sure what edition you used or if it had an introduction, but the book is inspired by his own war experiences. Vonnegut himself was a POW in Dresden and he really did take shelter in the basement of a slaughterhouse during the fire bombing.  Some of the characters are based on other POWs.  If you're interested, there's a free interview with him here.
Date Posted: 2/4/2013 2:04 PM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2006
Posts: 316
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I've not read it in 25 years , but I seem to remember complex ideas exprerssed with amazing simplicity of language. Also, Billy was such an ordinary guy but extraordinary things happened to him anyway. I wonder how often is the case that extraordinary things happen to people all the time but they just regard them as ho-hum. Or people perform ordinary duties that anybody would just do but they think they deserve a medal and a statue in the park.

So it goes.

Last Edited on: 2/5/13 8:09 AM ET - Total times edited: 1