Sunday, April 25, 2010

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

I dimly remember reading this back in the 60s when it first came out. I didn’t like it then -- as I did Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, and I have little additional regard for it now.

This postmodern piece of metafiction is somewhat interesting, but I think the antiwar message is muddled with all the stuff about the Tralfamadorians. I found the 100 plus uses of “So it goes” somewhat annoying. As a rule, postmodern fiction does little for me -- along with postmodern poetry, art, and film.

I read Catch-22 back in the 70s and took its anti-war message seriously. Years later, I re-read it and better appreciated the humor Heller infused into his story. Perhaps the TV series M.A.S.H., with its thinly veiled criticism of the Viet Nam war, influenced my second reading of Heller and Vonnegut.

Lately, I have been reading some of Vonnegut’s non-fiction, and when a member of my book club proposed it, I thought it might be the perfect time to re-visit Slaughterhouse Five. I am not giving up entirely on Vonnegut however, since I am going to read Cat’s Cradle soon. A trusted friend tells me it is his best. Three stars

--Chiron 4/25/10

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